Jeremy Hunt has backed Rishi Sunak to solve the “frighteningly complex” challenge of implementing Rwanda's asylum policy after it was ruled illegal by the High Court.
The chancellor said the government did not want to abandon the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) despite calls from the right of the Tory Party.
He said he did not “think it would come to that” as the Prime Minister kept the threat on the table as an option to stop the landmark policy being stuck in the courts.
Mr Sunak has promised a new treaty with Kigali and emergency laws to keep Rwanda safe despite widespread concerns, in a bid to ensure it is legally compliant.
Sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman has stepped up the pressure, arguing that “improving and perfecting” it will not succeed in pulling the flights before the election.
Mr Hunt admitted politics was “not an easy business” but said Mr Sunak was “the most persistent, most determined prime minister I have ever worked with”.
He suggested Mr Sunak is more determined than Lord David Cameron, who returned from the political wilderness to become foreign secretary in the reshuffle this week.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with David Cameron, but when it comes to solving terrifyingly complex problems, I've never worked with anyone as amazing as Rishi,” Mr Hunt told the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuensberg.
“I think we'll see, because I think when you interview me next year, we'll talk about how we achieved this plan and I'll say ‘look, it wasn't easy, I kept it, but this is what we promise to do.'
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Ms Braverman said the Prime Minister lacked the “moral leadership” to tackle the pro-Palestine marches, which she described as “mobs”.
He welcomed Mr Sunak's plans for emergency legislation but said the changes needed to be “meaningful”, adding that “tweaking and fine-tuning is not going to cut it… and we will not be withdrawing flights before the next general election ».
The Tory MP said elements of domestic and international human rights law should be excluded, as some colleagues on the right want the ECHR to be scrapped altogether.
However, Mr Hunt told the BBC that “at this stage” he did not believe it was necessary to follow Vladimir Putin's Russia in leaving the ECHR.
“What we are saying is ultimately … Parliament, the elected representatives in Parliament, not foreign judges, should decide who can come to this country,” he said.
“We don't think it will come to that at this stage, we think there are ways we can avoid it, we don't want to.”
Former High Court judge Lord Sumption has argued that the Rwanda plan is “probably dead” in its current form and believes judges at the European Court of Human Rights would likely agree with UK chief justices who blocked the plans.
“She will investigate the security for herself and probably come to a conclusion very similar to that of the High Court,” he told Sky's Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips.
The five judges ruled on Wednesday that the policy was illegal, citing concerns that Rwanda could send genuine refugees back to the countries they fled.
Many Tory MPs fear they will lose their seats at the next general election, with Labor leading by around 20 points in the polls.
They believe failure to deliver on the Prime Minister's pledge to “stop the boats” crossing the Channel will be very damaging.
Hunt admitted that retaining his Surrey seat would be a “tough fight”, despite winning the 2019 election by 8,817 votes.
“I think I can win it but I don't underestimate the challenge and I'm knocking on doors every week, I've got a fantastic squad and, to use that phrase, we'll do whatever it takes,” he said. he told the BBC.