Politics Home Office to consider narrowing Rwanda deportation appeal criteria...

Home Office to consider narrowing Rwanda deportation appeal criteria to appease rebels and pass Bill

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The Home Office is to consider narrowing the criteria for illegal migrants to appeal their removal to Rwanda to appease Tory rebels and secure the passage of the deportation Bill.

Senior Tories are understood to have opened talks with ministers on Wednesday in an effort to toughen up the Rwanda Bill to avoid a backbench revolt by rebel Right-wing MPs in the New Year that could kill off Rishi Sunak’s flagship legislation.

Lawyers from the Tory Right’s “star chamber” are to work with the Government’s legal experts to establish whether and how the Bill could be “tightened” without provoking a separate rebellion by centre-left One Nation MPs opposed to any further hardening.

One of the biggest concerns of Right-wing MPs is section four of the Bill, which allows individual migrants to appeal their deportation if they can produce “compelling” evidence that their removal to Rwanda would put them at imminent risk of serious and irreversible harm.

They fear that it will be exploited by “ingenious” lawyers to mount multiple challenges that would clog up the courts and delay, if not prevent, deportation flights.

A compromise floated by “star chamber” lawyers and leading rebels such as Sir Simon Clarke, the former Cabinet minister, would aim to specify the circumstances under which illegal migrants could appeal to avoid their lawyers exploiting the looser language in the Bill.

“This is precisely what the ‘star chamber’ recommended,” said a senior Tory MP.

“You put on the face of the Bill, for example, that a woman in the late stages of pregnancy or a person suffering rare medical conditions that could not be treated in Rwanda would be permitted.”

Mr Clarke, who abstained on Tuesday’s second reading vote, posted the option on X: “It would be possible to insert measures designed specifically to address the concerns of One Nation colleagues, eg protections for vulnerable individuals, or safe and legal routes, but this should be done expressly by statute and not by reference to European human rights law.”

A source close to James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, declined to comment on the specific proposal but suggested it would be considered as would any that were put forward in good faith, were “legally credible” and would not jeopardise the agreement with Rwanda.

“They will be looked at unless they are designed to sabotage the Bill,” said the source.

The moves came after the Prime Minister faced down Tory rebels on Tuesday night to win the second reading vote despite 29 rebel MPs abstaining without permission.

Rebels could still kill Bill

Leaders of the five Tory Right groups dubbed the “five families” warned that they would try to defeat the bill at the next reading unless it was significantly hardened up in the coming weeks.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed that amendments tabled by Tory critics of the Rwanda Bill would be considered by the Government. The spokesman said: “We will have discussions with colleagues. We will listen to any suggestions for amendment.”

On Wednesday, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, mocked Rishi Sunak over his party’s in-fighting over the Rwanda Bill.

Speaking at the last Prime Minister’s Questions before the festive recess, Sir Keir said: “Christmas is a time of peace on earth and goodwill to all – has anyone told the Tory Party?”

Mr Sunak, in a nod to Tory factions, joked in reply: “Christmas is also a time for families, and under the Conservatives we do have a record number of them.”

The comment was a reference to the five Tory Right groups that have nicknamed themselves the “five families”, echoing the name for five infamous mafia families in America.

The Bill has been pencilled in to return to the Commons in the third week of January when it will undergo its line by line scrutiny in its committee stage.

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