LONDON – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak struggled Thursday to avoid a leadership crisis following his plan to revive the economy Banned asylum agreement with Rwanda It sparked unrest in his party and the resignation of the Immigration Minister.
Sunak called a hastily scheduled press conference to defend his policy after Immigration Secretary Robert Jenrick resigned from the government late on Wednesday, saying the bill aimed to… Bypassing the court’s ban on the Rwanda plan “It doesn’t go far enough” and it won’t work.
Jenrick said the government had pledged to “stop boats” transporting migrants to Britain across the English Channel, and must do “whatever it takes to fulfill this commitment.”
The plan to send asylum seekers on a one-way flight to Rwanda is central to the UK government’s self-imposed goal of stopping migration Unauthorized asylum seekers crossing the Channel from France.
Britain and Rwanda agreed a deal in April 2022 under which migrants crossing the Channel will be sent to Rwanda, where their asylum claims will be processed and, if accepted, they will stay.
The UK government says the deportations will discourage others from making the risky sea crossing and break the business model of people smuggling gangs. Critics say it is unethical and impractical to send migrants to a country 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) away with no chance of settling in the UK.
No one has yet been sent to Rwanda under the plan, which has faced multiple legal challenges. Last month Supreme Court of the United Kingdom It ruled the plan illegal because Rwanda is not a safe country for refugees.
The government refused to drop the plan despite the court ruling. Britain and Rwanda have since then It signed a treaty pledging to strengthen protection For immigrants. The UK government says this will allow it to pass a law declaring Rwanda a safe destination and allow the government to ignore parts of British human rights law to send migrants there.
The government says the law will allow it to “reject” sections of UK human rights law when it comes to asylum claims related to Rwanda, and will make it harder to challenge deportations in the courts.
Home Secretary James Cleverly admitted the legislation might breach international human rights rules, but urged lawmakers to support it anyway.
But the legislation does not go far enough for some in the authoritarian wing of the ruling Conservative Party, who want the UK to leave the European Convention on Human Rights. Almost every European country, with the exception of Russia and Belarus, is bound by the Convention and its court.
Sunak responded to Jenrick’s resignation by saying the bill went as far as the government could go.
In a letter to Jenrick in response to his resignation, he wrote: “If we were to throw out the courts entirely, we would collapse the whole scheme.”
Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta confirmed that his country will cancel the agreement unless Britain adheres to international law.
“It has always been important to both Rwanda and the UK that our rule of law partnership meets the highest standards of international law, and imposes obligations on both the UK and Rwanda to act lawfully,” he said in a statement.
Sunak has struggled to hold divided Conservatives together since taking over as party leader and prime minister in October 2022 after the turbulent terms of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
He made “Stop the Boats.” One of his main promises Before the national elections scheduled for next year. He hopes the show of progress will help the party close a significant polling gap with the opposition Labor Party.
But opposition broke out again over the Rwanda plan. This concerns centrist Conservative lawmakers who oppose Britain’s violation of its human rights obligations.
The biggest danger facing Sunak comes from the far right represented by Jenrick and the former Home Secretary Suella BravermanWho was he Launched by Sunak Last month after she made a series of statements that deviated from the government line.
She is likely to run for party leadership in an expected competition if the Conservatives lose power in the elections. A contest could come sooner if Conservative lawmakers believe getting rid of Sunak will improve their chances.
Braverman criticized Rwanda’s bill and said the law should go further, including banning legal challenges to deportation and imprisoning asylum seekers in military-style barracks.
“We have to completely exclude international law – the Refugee Convention, and other broader avenues of legal appeal,” she said.
Braverman did not answer directly when asked whether she supported Sunak as prime minister.
“I want the prime minister to succeed in stopping the boats,” she said.
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