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Press releases

ERG Alliance Claims New Rwanda Bill Should Be "Pulled"

(Alamy)

4 min read

The ERG Alliance has claimed the Government will be "best advised to pull" the Rwanda Bill, after the group claimed it offered a "partial" and "incomplete" solution to tackle illegal migration.

MPs will vote on emergency legislation on Tuesday intended to declare Rwanda as a safe country in order to prevent further legal challenges to the Government's stalled policy to process asylum seekers offshore. 

This vote will test Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's authority within the Conservative Party, after he made a key promise to "stop the boats" at the start of the year. However, Downing Street is not treating it as a confidence vote. 

The Chair of the ERG Mark Francois, Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, told the BBC the Government would be "best advised to pull the bill". He told the broadcast channel the Government should draft a revised version of the Bill as he claimed the current one had many "holes" in it. 

Earlier on Monday he told reporters in Parliament the Rwanda Bill as it stands offers a "partial" and "incomplete solution" to the "problem of legal challenges in the UK courts being used as strategems to delay or defeat the removal of illegal migrants to Rwanda".

At the time Francois did not say whether he or the ERG will vote for the Bill when it receives its second reading.

An ERG source told PoliticsHome MPs on the Right of the Party had not yet decided on how they were going to vote yet. They added the group's official decision is likely to be announced in full by tomorrow. 

However, the source claimed that the Government's Rwanda Bill did not go far enough in guaranteeing that the "flood of migration" would "come to an end".

A source from the New Conservatives were shocked that the Star Chamber's criticism of the Bill "went further than expected". They claimed other MPs who were scepticial of the Bill felt the same. 

Danny Kruger, Co-Chair of the New Conservatives, who also attended the meeting, told journalists he was concerned that the Bill was "insufficient" and "doesn't yet work" as it is currently drafted. He claimed that he wanted the Bill to work and said he would be discussing it with Conservative MPs and the Government over the next 24 hours. 

It was confirmed different groups of Conservative MPs would meet this evening and Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister who resigned over the Bill, will be speaking. 

Simon Clarke, who attended on behalf of the Conservative Growth Group (CGG), said the ERG's report was "very concerning" and set out a number of "specific" challenges to the Government if the legislation works. 

"There is no point, frankly, in religitating this issue unless it does work. And that's something the whole Conservative Party probably agrees on," Clarke added. 

The ERG Report includes a number of key conclusions, including claims that the draft Rwanda Bill does not contain any restrictions on the "bringing of legal challenges against removal to Rwanda based on grounds other than Rwanda is not a safe country".

It also claimed that there is limited disapplication of the Human Rights Act 1998 and few restrictions on interim injunctions of UK courts. 

The report also said it is not "flexible", and does not allow the Government to "spread the risk between offshoring and outsourcing".

A Conservative source told PoliticsHome they believed the Government were happy to accept amendments from the right of the Tory Party to get the Bill through Parliament and into law. 

It is understood a number of potential rebel Tory MPs including some from the New Conservatives will have breakfast in Downing Street with the Prime Minister on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister's spokesperson this morning told reporters it will "continue to listen carefully to MPs. We are confident this is the toughest version of the legislation and will enable us to stop the boats.”

The Government has claimed it was not possible for it to state whether Rwanda is safe for "every individual liable to removal at any point in the future". 

It claimed the Rwanda Bill limits "unnecessary" challenges while individiuals will have access to challenge the courts if they are at real risk of "serious and irreversible" harm. 

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