Sunak and Braverman cave under pressure from Tory rebels on immigration crackdown

Close up of Suella Braverman looking at Rishi Sunak in the foreground

Suella Braerman is looking to Rishi Sunak for support against rebels

GB News Reporter

By GB News Reporter

Published: 24/04/2023

- 10:55

Prime Minister faces opposition over child migrants, modern slavery and Rwanda policy

Rishi Sunak is set to soften language on the small boats Bill to ensure greater protection for under 18s in an appeasement of Tory rebels, as the Prime Minister faces friction on all migration fronts.

Facing a looming rebellion over the small boats Bill, Sunak has offered the concessions that unaccompanied children would only be detained in “exceptional circumstances” and deported in “very limited circumstances” such as for “family reunion” or removal “to their safe home country”.

However, rebels are expected to meet today to decide whether to force a vote when the Illegal Migration Bill returns to the Commons for its report stage on Wednesday.

Amendments to the Illegal Migration Bill are expected to be backed by Labour, meaning that 15-20 Tory MPs would need to rebel and back the proposed changes in order to overturn the Prime Minister’s majority of 64.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak is facing pressure on all sides of the party over the Illegal Migration Bill


This comes as pockets of rebellion are also brewing in the Tory ranks over the planned crackdown on modern slavery claims and over the ongoing tug of war with European Courts of Human Rights.

The Home Secretary is facing resistance from both the Left and Right of the party, leading to concessions being offered.

However, former minister Tim Loughton is spearheading a faction of 15 Tory MPs demanding Government go further and enshrine legal time limits on the detention of unaccompanied child migrants and a guarantee that judges sign off any extension of detention.

Loughton said: “They need to make it clear on the face of the Bill that children are treated differently to adults and any extension to detention limits needs to be sanctioned by the courts.”

Former ministers Sir Robert Buckland and Caroline Nokes are amongst those calling for detention to be limited at 24 hours.

A report published today by the Refugee Council and Barnardo’s found that up to 15,000 children would be locked up and banned from remaining as a refugee in the UK in the Bill’s first three years.

Sunak previously told a liaison committee that exempting children from detention would “incentivise” illegal child migration and create a “pull factor” that puts minors at risk.

The Government’s attempts to close a loophole that grants those migrants deemed to be victims of modern slavery exemption from deportation is also facing opposition from within the Tory party.

Suella Braverman in Rwanda

Braverman travelled to Rwanda last month


Former Prime Minister Theresa May and Sir Iain Duncan Smith are pushing an amendment to the Bill backed by Damian Green, Mrs May’s former deputy, former justice secretary Sir Robert and Mr Loughton.

May warned MPs last month that approving the Bill would “drive a coach and horses” through her Modern Slavery Act, as she lamented “denying support to those who have been exploited and enslaved, and in doing so making it much harder to catch and stop the traffickers and slave drivers.”

A few prominent Tories have threatened to deride the Bill if it allows the Home Secretary to ignore clause 39 orders from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons Justice Committee, told Times Radio that ignoring the ECHR “would go wholly against the whole traditions of the Conservative Party”, while Buckland feared “an unnecessary scrap with Strasbourg judges”.

This comes as the Government prepares to start its legal defence of the Rwanda policy in the Court of Appeal today.

While the Rwanda policy has already been ruled lawful in the High Court, bodies that include charities Detention Action and Care4Calais have been green lighted to appeal the ruling.

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