Sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman has asked Rishi Sunak to introduce “emergency legislation” blocking the European Convention on Human Rights after the High Court overturned the Rwanda policy.
Less than 24 hours after her scathing attack on the Prime Minister's leadership, the former minister intervened again to tell the government to take new measures or “admit defeat”.
In a post on X, formerly of Twitter, he said the decision came as “no surprise” to people close to the process, adding: “Given the current state of the law, there is no reason to criticize the judges. Instead, the government must introduce emergency legislation.”
Measures to prevent both the ECHR and the Human Rights Act from acting as barriers to the system should be central to any bill, Ms Braverman said, echoing the demands of other Tory-right MPs.
Mr Sunak on Wednesday announced emergency legislation that would allow Parliament to consider Rwanda a safe destination for asylum seekers, but it does not appear to go as far as the ousted former minister's demands.
The Prime Minister faces wider turmoil in Tory ranks after a plan to send asylum seekers to the east African nation was ruled illegal by five of the UK's most senior judges.
The New Conservative group of MPs said the decision was “existential” for the party, while deputy leader Lee Anderson said ministers should “ignore the law” and start removing asylum seekers immediately.
Supporters on the right of the party are now calling for a drastic overhaul of the UK's rights and treaties framework, potentially going beyond their previous proposal to bypass the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Other moves to repeal treaties such as the Refugee Convention should now be considered if necessary given the scope of the ruling, the New Conservatives argued.
Mr Sunak's strategy is to seek an upgraded deal with Rwanda that addresses the High Court's concerns and introduce emergency laws to empower Parliament to “confirm” that Kigali is safe.
But the measures failed to fully appease the group, with co-chairs Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates saying a solution would take “more than a statement”.
“I am delighted that the Prime Minister is proposing emergency legislation,” they said in a message posted on X.
“But it will take more than a declaration that Rwanda is safe. We look forward to the ECtHR stepping in: we must act now to ensure that this time, at long last, there is simply no chance for rights-based claims against deportation.
“The Bill must disapply the Human Rights Act and enact the policy *independently* of the ECHR and the Refugee Convention.”
Ms Cates earlier did not say whether she retained full confidence in the prime minister when asked by reporters after a group meeting in Parliament.
Mr Anderson described the High Court ruling as a “black day for the British people” and said ministers should “just get the planes in the air now and send them to Rwanda”.
“It's time the government showed real leadership and sent them back, on the same day. I think we should ignore the law and send them right back the same day,” he said.
The prime minister refused to condemn Mr Anderson's suggestion that ministers defy the court ruling, but insisted the rule of law was “fundamental” to UK democracy, saying he would respect and accept the ruling.
In a 56-page ruling, five of the UK's most senior judges agreed that a proper assessment had not been made of whether Rwanda was safe for asylum seekers and that the country's history “cannot be effectively ignored or sidelined”.
None of the £140m the UK has already spent can be repaid and a new upgraded deal with Kigali announced by Mr Sunak is expected to add even more to the cost, with Labor accusing the government of wasting cash from the taxpayers.
Jonathan Gullis, a member of the New Conservatives group, had earlier said there were a number of options the government could consider, including physically pushing small boats back into French waters in the English Channel.
After the prime minister's press conference later on Wednesday, in which he announced emergency legislation but said “the devil will be in the details”.
“This seems to be a step in the right direction, but we have to make sure we go as far as necessary,” he told Times Radio.
Meanwhile, Brendan Clarke-Smith, another Conservative MP from 2019, posted a picture on social media of a 2016 Daily Mail headline suggesting judges were “enemies of the people” over a Brexit decision .
“We are here in the past,” he wrote.
He later insisted he had not attacked the High Court judges, but referred to the “democratic choices” of the British people, adding: “As we did then with Brexit, we resolved the problem in Parliament and I intend to do that. it's happening again.”
Former cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke said the government's response to the legal setback would be “a matter of trust” in Mr Sunak's judgment as prime minister.
He suggested that “at the very least” emergency legislation should be introduced to assert Parliament's sovereignty.
It comes after Ms Braverman accused the Prime Minister of being “uncertain” and “weak” in an inflammatory letter, where she claimed she had agreed to be his home secretary on “certain conditions”, including certain commitments on immigration.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green offered support to Mr Sunak after his press conference.
Describing the proposals as “flawlessly measured”, he said he was glad the Prime Minister had not heeded calls to abandon the ECHR.
“I am a man of the rule of law. I think the government should obey the law. If we sign international treaties, we should stick to them,” he told BBC Radio 4's PM show.