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Rishi Sunak is adamant he will not back down on his Rwanda plan

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Rishi Sunak is adamant he will not back down and accept substantial changes to his Rwanda plan – despite pressure from backbenchers for a compromise.

As MPs prepare to spend the weekend poring over the details of the draft legislation, sources told the Mail that there was ‘no way’ of amending it without jeopardising the entire policy.

It comes despite legal migration minister Tom Pursglove suggesting the Government could be open to compromises with rebel Tories unhappy with the Safety of Rwanda Bill.

He said ministers would ‘engage constructively with parliamentarians around any concerns that they have and handle that in the way that we would any other piece of legislation’.

The source said ‘significantly weakening’ the legislation would mean that no flights would get off the ground, and ‘going beyond what the Rwandans are comfortable with’ would result in the partnership collapsing.

‘There is no way of amending this without jeopardising getting flights off the ground,’ they added.

The Bill will be debated by MPs in the Commons on Tuesday. It is expected to clear its first parliamentary hurdle and be approved at second reading.

But No 10 has delayed an expected showdown with backbenchers until after Christmas, when a series of amendments will be made at committee stage.

Even if the legislation is approved by the Commons it is likely to run into difficulties in the Lords, where the Government has frequently struggled to get Bills through unscathed.

Mr Sunak is facing a rebellion from both wings of his party – with some on the Right believing his plan will be ineffective.

But Tory moderates think it goes too far in over-riding the Human Rights Act and using the law to over-rule the Supreme Court’s verdict that Rwanda is not a safe place to send asylum seekers.

Mr Sunak insisted yesterday the proposed legislation was ‘not only the right approach, but the only approach’ to get deportation flights off the ground before the next election. Yet MPs from both wings of the party look set to demand amendments in order to secure their support.

A senior Right-wing Tory told the Mail: ‘If we don’t get something that works, No 10 knows what that means… they know that the PM is in personal peril at the moment.

‘They are not going to be so obdurate as to invite a storm of [no confidence] letters going into Sir Graham Brady, are they?’

Another source on the Right of the party added: ‘All Bills can be amended.’

Tory veteran Sir Bill Cash has assembled his ‘star chamber’ team of legal experts to scrutinise the draft legislation this weekend, and a verdict could come as soon as tomorrow.

Meanwhile, former solicitor general Lord Edward Garnier is advising the One Nation faction of Conservatives. He has compared the ‘extraordinary’ Bill to ruling that ‘all dogs are cats’.

Mr Sunak was warned by senior government lawyers that the legislation was at risk of failure because it would allow migrants to lodge challenges against their individual removal, it was reported yesterday.

But Downing Street said: ‘We expect that those able to provide compelling evidence about specific individual risks will be vanishingly narrow and that’s why we believe that this is the best approach to get flights swiftly off the ground.’

Tory Right-wing backbencher Jonathan Gullis urged ministers to publish the legal advice, telling Sky News: ‘I’d be quite keen to see the Government produce the legal advice that was given to the Home Office, and therefore No10 as well, so we can actually see what they said.

‘I hope it [the Bill] works, but I am sceptical at the present time.’

Mr Sunak, members of his Cabinet and party whips are expected to spend the weekend calling colleagues in a desperate bid to convince them to back the Bill.

A Tory source said: ‘They’ve got a choice as to whether they back something that gets the flights off, or if they decide that ideological purity is more important than delivering what British people want.’

It comes as speculation mounts that the Prime Minister could face a leadership challenge in the coming weeks, with MPs on both sides of the party enraged at Mr Sunak’s handling of the legislation.

One former cabinet minister told the Mail Mr Sunak ‘spoke like a desperate man’ when he addressed Tory MPs at the 1922 Committee on Wednesday evening. They added: ‘He looked like there were headlights coming straight at him.. And he was mindful he needed to do something to avoid them, but he is a worried man.’

The MP cautioned Mr Sunak against calling a general election to dodge a Tory leadership election. ‘Unless Rishi says, and he would be very unwise to say so, ‘back me, otherwise I’ll call a general election’ – if he’s going to do that, his name would be mud and dirt in legacy.

‘We are 20 points behind because of him, his inability to lift us from the opinion polls in the year that he’s been there, and if he says ‘I’m going to take you to a general election’, that is unthinkable – unless he becomes unhinged.’



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