Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has overcome a disagreement within his party about the Rwanda bill, but he still needs to work hard to pass it through Parliament.
The law passed its first test in the House of Commons with a lot of support, but there will be more votes in the new year.
None of the Tory MPs voted against, but some people who don’t fully agree with the party chose not to vote.
The rebels said that the Prime Minister had told them he would think about making the bill stricter.
However, doing this may cause some moderate Conservative Members of Parliament to withdraw their support. They have cautioned that they would resist any future changes that would violate international law.
The new law was created to support the government’s idea to send some refugees to Rwanda.
The government wants to stop migrants from using small boats to cross the Channel. Sunak thinks this is very important.
Nervousness in Downing Street about a close result made Climate Minister Graham Stuart come back from a climate conference in Dubai to vote.
However, even though some conservative members threatened to vote against the bill, only members from the opposing party actually did, and the bill was approved with 313 votes in favor and 269 against.
About 29 Conservative Members of Parliament, including former Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, decided not to support the bill and chose to abstain.
In total, 37 Tory MPs didn’t vote. Some of them might not have been able to go to the vote instead of choosing not to vote.
Just before the vote, five groups of lower-ranking MPs said they couldn’t agree with the bill the way it is.
They want to suggest changes to the bill. They also said they might vote against the bill in the new year if their changes are not accepted.
Mark Francois, who leads a group on the right side of the party called the ERG, didn’t vote. He said to BBC News: “We didn’t vote because we don’t think the bill is strong enough to guarantee that flights will go to Rwanda. ”
The prime minister said he would consider making the bill stricter. “He said that we believe what he said. ”
“Many members of parliament supported the government’s vote. ” Because they were told in private that changes would be made later.
However, if the government agrees to their requests, it will cause more problems.
The One Nation group, made up of over 100 Tory MPs, suggested that its members should vote for the bill. However, they also said that they would not support any changes that would make the UK government break the law or its agreements with other countries.
Matt Warman, a member of the group, said on the BBC’s World Tonight program that they don’t want the bill to break international law. Anything that breaks those laws is not an option.
He said that we might be able to find a fair agreement as we continue working on this bill.
It might be harder to pass stricter laws in the House of Lords.
Damian Green, the head of One Nation, told BBC News that the vote had less people not voting than he thought and that if the government keeps their position, they can probably pass this law without changes.
Chris Philp, who is the Home Office Minister, said that the government is willing to consider suggestions from MPs on how to make the bill better.
“Government ministers will talk to members of Parliament to see if they can make the bill stricter and better so that there are no ways to get around it,” he said.
Ben Bradley, a member of the Common Sense Group in Parliament, said on BBC Newsnight that sometimes practicality needs to be balanced with beliefs. What is the most powerful thing we can deliver compared to what is completely flawless.
The bill wants to make it a rule in UK law that it is okay to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, because the Supreme Court said the old policy was not allowed.
However, some people in the party’s conservative wing say that it is not powerful enough right now to stop legal challenges to deportations.
A spokesperson from No 10 said that this bill is the strictest law ever brought to Parliament. It also makes it clear that the Parliament is the highest authority, not any court from another country.
“We will now work to make sure that this bill becomes a law so that we can have flights to Rwanda and stop the boats,” said the spokesperson.
Labour, along with other parties, voted no on the bill. They said that if they win the next election, they will get rid of the plan for Rwanda.
The money given to Rwanda could be used to stop groups that smuggle people.
Yvette Cooper, who is a member of the Labour party and speaks for them on home affairs, said that the Conservative party’s disagreements are still going on, and it is causing problems for the country.
“Today’s debate showed that Rishi Sunak is not very strong, and the problems within the Tory party are still going on into the new year. “