Explanation of today's vote in the UK Parliament in Rwanda


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces a crucial test of his authority on Tuesday as he tries to quell a hard-right rebellion in his party.

It is about a highly controversial immigration policy aimed at discouraging asylum seekers from crossing from France to Britain on small boats, sending hundreds of them on one-way flights to Rwanda.

Both Mr. Sunak and potential right-wing rebels see the project as key to the prospects of the ruling Conservative Party.

The Conservatives have decided to make the fight against immigration a central issue in recent years, announcing tough measures aimed at deterring migrants from even trying to reach Britain. On Tuesday, it was announced that a person had died on a barge hired by the government to accommodate asylum seekers. Bibi Stockholmputting additional pressure on Mr. Sunac over his government's handling of migrants.

But rifts with the party, which has held power for 13 years and is lagging far behind in the polls, are so deep that Tuesday's vote on Rwandan politics revived memories of the crisis since Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016. spawned a series of votes in parliament, plunged the country into political gridlock and ended with Prime Minister Theresa May losing her job.

Under the government's plan, some of those arriving on small boats would be deported to Rwanda to have their asylum claims processed there. Even if they were later recognized as refugees, they would be invited to stay in the small African country rather than being allowed to live in Britain.

Tens of thousands of people make the perilous journey across the English Channel every year, often in unseaworthy boats. And, while the numbers are small compared to the scale legal immigration to Britainthese arrivals are a highly visible and embarrassing symbol of the failure of one of the main promises of Brexit supporters: to control Britain's borders.

The Rwanda policy was introduced under Govt Boris Johnson in 2022, and was immediately criticized by human rights groups and legal experts who warned that it was likely to be unworkable given the UK's obligations under international law. The government pushed ahead and Mr Sunak adopted the plan when he became prime minister last year.

However, despite government spending or promises a total of 290 million pounds – about 310 million dollars – according to the project, not a single person seeking asylum has been brought to Rwanda. Supreme Court of Great Britain ruled this year that Rwanda is unsafe for asylum seekers and that some may be sent to their countries of origin where they may be in danger. The new legislation aims to address court objections.

The legislation proposes to repeal some human rights laws and, according to critics, comes close to violating international obligations. Courts would be ordered to overturn sections of Britain's Human Rights Act, and the government could ignore emergency orders from the European Court of Human Rights to suspend the flight while the court case is pending.

The bill also states that “Every decision-maker must conclusively regard the Republic of Rwanda as a safe country,” which contradicts the trier of fact and forces immigration officials, the Home Secretary and the courts to comply. The government says it has assurances from the Rwandan government, enshrined in the new treaty, that all asylum seekers will be allowed to remain in the country even if their claims are not met. But critics say declaring Rwanda safe when the Supreme Court has said otherwise is like declaring black is white.

Indeed, it's almost too much for One Nation, a faction of centre-left conservative lawmakers that appears poised to support the legislation as it stands, but not if it gets tougher. According to Mr Sunak, the Rwandan government has also threatened to pull out if Britain commits further violations of international law.

But the bill is not tough enough for the right wing of the Conservative Party. Immigration Minister Robert Jerrick resigned from the government last week, saying the bill did not go far enough. On Monday, legal experts at the European Research Group, a right-wing group that has hounded Mrs May during the Brexit drama, described the bill as a “partial and incomplete solution” to the legal problems that have until now banned flights to Rwanda and said “very substantial amendments” were needed.

The right wants the government to close all avenues for deportation appeals and believes Britain should be ready to leave the European Convention on Human Rights if necessary. Some want the government to withdraw the bill and start again.

At this stage, according to most political observers, quite well. The government worked hard to court potential rebels. But any victory can be temporary.

On Tuesday night, lawmakers will only be asked to approve the measure in principle. There will be opportunities to amend the legislation later, and it is also likely to face fierce opposition in the unelected upper house of the British Parliament, the House of Lords.

That way, critics could shut their noses and vote for the bill and then plan to change it. Or Mr. Sunak's domestic opponents could abstain.

The main opposition Labor Party opposes the bill, as do smaller parties. So to preserve the policy, the Prime Minister can probably allow no more than 28 Conservatives to vote against the bill or 56 to abstain, although if some oppose and others choose not to vote, the maths can get complicated.

If Mr. Sunak figures he's losing, he can always withdraw the legislation, but that would be such a humiliation that it would only be a last resort.

Defeat would be the biggest and most damaging blow to Mr. Sunac's already shaky leadership. The Conservatives trail the opposition Labor Party by around 20 points in opinion polls with a general election expected next year.

As a result, the party, which gave up two prime ministers last year, is in talks to elect another, although Conservative leader Richard Holden said last week that triggering another leadership election would be “madness”.

Mr. Sunak's problem is that he has put the Rwanda agenda at the center of his political agenda. Without the bill, his flagship policy would be in tatters – just like Mrs May's plan to leave the EU, which she has suffered repeated defeats in parliament. And given the divisions within the Conservatives, even if the bill passes Tuesday, the conflict over the policy may simply be delayed.

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