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Tory revolt, new agreement: Rishi Sunak's challenges grow after Rwanda policy's court defeat

The challenges for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was propelled to power last year following an economic crisis, appear to grow further as he has disappointed the hard-right of the Conservative Party following the defeat of the government’s Rwanda migration policy in the Supreme Court.

The task for Sunak is cut out: finalising a new agreement with Rwanda thay may address the apex court’s concerns if in case a review petition is filed, and pacifying the right-wing of the Tory party which has already shown signs of revolt.

Shortly after the top court bench dismissed the Rwanda policy as “unlawful”, Sunak addressed the Members of Parliament, announcing that he would “finalise” a new agreement with the East African nation.

“The government has been working already on a new treaty with Rwanda and we will finalise that in light of today’s judgment,” the prime minister said, adding that he is also open to “revisit our domestic legal frameworks” if they may act as a barrier towards implementing the policy to deport the asylum seekers.

The comments came a day after Suella Braverman, the sacked UK home secretary, criticised Sunak for not taking measures to remove the Britain as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and the 1951 Refugee Convention.

The two international pacts are said to be at the core of frustrating the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to a third-country.

The UK government has already paid Rwanda 140 million pounds as part of the deportation policy. The Supreme Court, however, ruled it illegal, noting that the migrants’ cases may be unfairly assessed by Rwanda and a possibility exists that may be sent back to the countries where they were persecuted.

Tory revolt brews

A lawmaker of the Conservative Party told Bloomberg that a section of those opposed to Sunak would submit a no-confidence letter to party’s backbench committee chairman Graham Brady. The letter requires at least 53 signatories to bring the no-confidence motion into effect.

Another Tory leader, Andrew Jenkyns, has already submitted a letter of no-confidence against Sunak. While speaking to GB News, she said that around six party MPs were preparing to support her.

“Stop the boats” – a clarion class towards curbing the inflow of asylum seekers into the countries via the sea route – was among the five major promises which the Tories had made ahead of the last general elections

A section of the party fears that if the government fails to implement the Rwanda policy, it may end up antagonising its core voter base. A YouGov poll survey recently suggested that 48 percent voters were in favour of the Rwanda policy, as against 35 percent opposed to it.

The confidence in Sunak’s judgment as a prime minister and leader of the Tories would be dented if he fails to pass laws that allow Britain to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights and the 1951 Refugee Convention in order to bring the deportation policy into effect, former Cabinet minister Simon Clarke said, while speaking to Sky News.

The passage of such laws, however, may disenchant the centrists associated with the Tories, experts pointed out. The government’s bid to keep the centrist support base intact was on display earlier this week, as ex-PM David Cameron – a staunch critic of the Brexit – was brought back as the foreign secretary.

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Updated: 15 Nov 2023, 11:12 PM IST

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