Rishi Sunak’s premiership is in “real danger” as Tory “war” breaks out over illegal immigration, figures on the right of the Conservative Party have claimed.
The Prime Minister position looks increasingly precarious in the hours after Robert Jenrick resigned as Immigration Minister.
Jenrick quit Sunak’s Government on Wednesday night shortly after Home Secretary James Cleverly returned from Kigali with a revised version of the Rwanda asylum plan.
Despite seeking to alter the law following the Supreme Court’s judgment last month, the Prime Minister’s position as Tory leader remains in jeopardy as Conservative MPs on the right sharpen their knives.
WATCH NOW: Tory MPs disagree on Robert Jenrick's resignation
Sunak sought to reassure potential Tory rebels by echoing his previous message of “unite or die”.
However, his appearance at the 1922 Committee appears to have fallen on deaf ears ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
A Tory MP told GB News: “When Conservative leaders say ‘unite or die’, it is usually because they’re in a bit of a mess. That was said by Iain Duncan Smith when he was in trouble. It is a very strange message and smacks of a lack of confidence.”
Taking aim at the Prime Minister, the MP added: “Number 10’s operation is awful. He’s getting really bad advice … He’s in real danger. Any MP can tell you that the issue of illegal migration is far and away the biggest national issue that gets raised on the doorsteps.
“Sunak has put out a message of stop the boats. That’s binary. It’s not stop 25 per cent of the boats or stop most of the boats. It is stop the boats.
“It is a question of leadership. The whole point of leadership is to persuade people.
“At the moment he’s not persuading either wing of his party and there’s a pretty strong chance there will be a leadership challenge before the next election.”
Sunak’s position was first brought into question when Suella Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary last month.
The Fareham MP, who is seen as the flag-bearer for the Tory right, is seemingly hoping to court support by being unapologetically critical of the Prime Minister’s migration policy.
There is growing speculation that Sunak will have to use next week’s Commons division as a de facto confidence vote in a bid to halt a humiliating defeat.
However, the Prime Minister stopped short of threatening to expel rebels and rejected the suggestion it was a "back me or sack me" moment.
It has been reported that as many as 18 MPs have submitted no confidence letters to 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady.
The threshold required to trigger a confidence vote in Sunak’s as Tory leader is 53 MPs.
A veteran of Boris Johnson’s Government was equally scathing in his assessment of Sunak’s remaining days in Downing Street.
They said: “If he doesn’t start to turn things around quickly in the New Year, a lot of MPs will be left thinking ‘do you know what, nothing can be worse than this’.
“I don’t believe that there is a single Conservative MP who can honestly look at themself in the mirror today and say we are in a much better place than we were on September 6, 2022, when Boris Johnson resigned.
“Rishi Sunak after 14 months has nothing. He has nothing to point anyone to and say ‘this is my issue that I have owned’.”
Suella Braverman is not happy with the new legislation PA
The former Downing Street insider, who described Sunak’s “purge” of the Tory right in last month’s Cabinet reshuffle as naïve, added: “The right of the party is completely outside the tent and we’ve seen the trouble that that is now causing him.”
“Suella and her supporters are pitting Rishi against the country. They’re saying your values do not align with ordinary people and therefore chaos and electoral oblivion.
“The issue with immigration is it is not going anywhere and he has angered the Tory right and now it is slightly cloaked but it is pretty much all out war.”
Sunak’s future rests on a number of MPs from different ginger groups, including the Brexit-backing European Research Group.
GB News understands that a meeting between the ERG, New Conservatives and Common Sense Group was focused on MPs being united on what Number 10 needs to deliver.
An ERG source suggested Downing Street is “disconnected” from the Tory Party and wider electorate on illegal migration.
“Number 10 doesn't realise the gravitas and importance of this issue,” the insider said.
Rishi Sunak at an immigration raid in HarrowPA
“They probably thought we were just stirring up debate about the ECHR but it is so much bigger than that. This is about door-step issues. We’ve got to stop the boats. It’s simple. Not reduce the boats. It’s a clear message.”
The ERG insider added: “What Number 10 fails to understand is that this isn’t us trying to be difficult. It’s us trying to solve an issue that we’ve failed to do for the last 13 years and we will never be forgiven for this if we don’t act.”
However, some Conservative MPs remain committed to the Prime Minister with an election expected in less than 12 months’ time.
Shipley MP Phillip Davies warned Tory rebels that moving against Sunak would ultimately wreak even more havoc for the Conservatives at the next election.
He told GB News: “My colleagues need to stop being so self-indulgent.
“We are all on the same side here. Braverman acknowledged in her statement that Sunak’s busting a gut to sort this out.
“He’s delivered about 95 per cent of what everyone has asked for and rather than bleating about the five per cent they don’t like, they should get behind what the Prime Minister is trying to do and turn our guns on the Labour Party who don’t want to deport anybody.”
He added: “There’s no excuse for Conservative MPs not to support what Sunak is doing.
“They should get behind it and turn their guns on Labour. It's a Labour Government that’s the real threat to the country, not a Conservative Government.
“If Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick can’t see that the real threat to this country comes from Keir Starmer not Rishi Sunak then they need to take a long, hard think about what they're doing.”
Sunak used his Downing Street press conference yesterday to champion his revised Rwanda deal as the “toughest immigration law ever”.
The Prime Minister said: “Even with this new law here at home, we could still face challenges from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
“So let me repeat what I said two weeks ago, I will not allow a foreign court to block these flights.”
But a 106-strong Conservative caucus on the liberal end of the party, known as the One Nation Group, fear Sunak's latest efforts could breach international law.
There are reports that both the left and right could opt to vote through the bill on its second reading but could then seek to cause chaos by tabling contradictory amendments.