By: Pramod Thomas
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has struck a ‘temporary ceasefire’ with Tory rebels as he agreed to look at tougher measures in migrants bill to prevent the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) from blocking deportations to Rwanda, The Telegraph reported.
The twist happened when more than 60 Tory MPs threatened to vote against the government in the Commons.
Sunak’s new stand will give the Downing Street three weeks, until after Parliament’s Easter recess, to come up with a new blueprint.
According to The Telegraph, immigration minister Robert Jenrick sought to see off a rebellion by assuring lawmakers that he would speak to them about their worries that human rights law could interfere with the bill.
“I am certainly keen to give them an undertaking to engage with them and other colleagues who are interested in these points ahead of report stage of the bill,” Jenrick was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
“We are united in our determination that this bill will be robust, that it will be able to survive the kind of egregious and vexatious legal challenges that we have seen in the past, and that it will enable us to do the job and to remove illegal immigrants to safe third countries like Rwanda.”
Following the agreement, Tory rebels including Danny Kruger, Simon Clarke and Sir Bill Cash agreed not to force a vote on their proposals.
One proposal would oblige the government to ignore interim judgments, known as Rule 39 judgments, issued by the ECHR to block deportations.
The second proposal means ministers could not be legally forced to bring back migrants who won an appeal after being sent to Rwanda. Also, the period within which asylum seekers can fight a removal order would be shortened to seven days to prevent delaying tactics.
The rebels also want restrictions on how judicial reviews could be used in the UK courts to try and stop illegal arrivals from being deported.
“Ultimately we know that our best and probably only chance to avoid this legislation from being entangled in human rights law is for this place to be absolutely clear and unambiguous about our intentions,” Clarke is reported to have said in the Commons.
Kruger hoped the revised bill will end the use of ‘pyjama injunctions in the middle of the night’ by the ECHR.
“We should not be dictated to when it comes to the control of our borders,” he added.
A Downing Street spokesman said that the prime minister has made it clear that the bill will comply with international law and stop the boats, while dealing with illegal migration.
Meanwhile, more than 60 NGOs, MPs and academics have written to Sunak urging him to withdraw the bill.
Ahead of the bill’s committee stage debate on Tuesday (28), signatories, including Anti-Slavery International, After Exploitation and Liberty, warned that the bill will drive modern slavery underground and ‘cost lives, The Guardian reported.
According to activists, the bill offers no blanket safeguards against the detention of women, children, pregnant people or those with serious mental or physical illnesses.
“The illegal migration bill will change the law so that if someone is identified as a potential victim of modern slavery or human trafficking, we will ensure they are safely returned home or to another safe country, away from those who have trafficked them,” said a Home Office spokesperson.