Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda deportation legislation survived a right-wing Conservative rebellion after would-be rebels announced they would not vote down an unchanged Bill.
The Prime Minister saw the Safety of Rwanda Bill pass its third reading in the House of Commons by a majority of 44 on Wednesday evening.
More than 60 Tory MPs had earlier supported an amendment designed to toughen the draft law, voting for a proposal designed to allow UK ministers to ignore emergency injunctions by European judges attempting to stop asylum seeker deportation flights to east Africa from taking off.
But Downing Street went into the third reading vote knowing it had seen off a potentially damaging defeat after the majority of rebels signalled they would back it even without any amendments being accepted.
The Bill will now move to the House of Lords where it is expected to face serious opposition.
Speaking after an 11th hour meeting of right-wing Conservatives in Parliament, a rebel source told reporters: “The majority of those people who spoke in the room have decided to back the Bill at third reading.
“A small number of colleagues will vote ‘No’ on a point of principle.”
The division list showed 11 Tories rebelled at third reading, including sacked home secretary Suella Braverman and former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, along with Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates, leading figures in the New Conservatives faction which is pushing for tougher migration measures.
Lee Anderson, who resigned as deputy party chairman to back rebel amendments on Tuesday, was among at least eight others who had no vote recorded at third reading but had backed the anti-Strasbourg court amendment on Wednesday.
It means the size of the Tory rebellion is likely to have been close to 20.
Home Secretary James Cleverly, speaking in the Commons ahead of the third reading vote, said he respected those who had put forward amendments that they believed could strengthen the Bill.
He looked to reassure MPs that the legislation was “in complete compliance with international law” while also preventing legal challenges to deportation orders.
“This Bill sends an unambiguously clear message that if you enter the United Kingdom illegally you cannot stay,” Mr Cleverly said.
“This Bill has been meticulously drafted to end the merry-go-round of legal challenges.”
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