Fears emergency Rwanda migrant plan risks DELAY after Cabinet row breaks out

​Rishi Sunak and James Cleverly

Rishi Sunak and James Cleverly have expressed differences in opinion over the policy

Dan Falvey

By Dan Falvey

Published: 26/11/2023

- 08:56

Updated: 26/11/2023

- 09:15

Home Secretary James Cleverly described the Rwanda plan as not the 'be all and end all'

Concerns was growing last night that plans to fast-track Rishi Sunak's Rwanda immigration policy risk delay.

Friction is said to be emerging within the Cabinet over the policy, with Conservative backbenchers left fearing the worst for the asylum plan.

Yesterday the new Home Secretary James Cleverly left colleagues enraged when he said that the migration agreement with the African nation was not the "be all and end all".

He also suggested that leaving the European Convention on Human Rights - which has be blamed for the original Rwanda scheme being ruled illegal by the Supreme Court - may actually hurt the fight against illegal migration.

WATCH: Rishi Sunak on his Rwanda plan

"I do not want to do anything that might undermine the key co-operation we have with countries [who] are very wedded to the ECHR for understandable reasons," he told a newspaper.

"Nothing is cost free. Everything needs to be considered, the advantages and disadvantages."

Sunak has made clear that he is ready to quit the international agreement if it gets in the way of the Government's plan to bring down the number of illegal arrivals to the UK.

The apparent chasm between the Prime Minister and his Home Secretary risks leading to stalemate and delays to any new Rwanda deal.

James Cleverly walking out of Downing Street

James Cleverly said he was concerned leaving the ECHR could cause more problems

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has vowed to do 'whatever it takes' to stop boats crossing the English Channel


Following Cleverly's comments, a Conservative source told The Sun: “This is meant to be an emergency, they have to get on with it.”

Meanwhile, Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis said: “We made a promise to the British people to stop the boats.

"He would be wise to remember this.”

A Government source said: “The most important thing is getting these planes off the ground quickly, and not fighting an ideological war.”

Earlier this month Sunak promised to end the legal “merry-go-round” over the Rwanda asylum policy as he acknowledged voters’ patience was wearing thin at the Government’s inability to get flights in the air.

He promised a new treaty and emergency legislation to ensure the plan is legally watertight following a Supreme Court ruling against it.


The Prime Minister said: “I’m completely committed to doing what is necessary to get those flights off and that scheme up and running.

“Because we have prepared for all circumstances we have been working on a new treaty with Rwanda that will address all the concerns that were raised by the Supreme Court, and we will combine that with new emergency legislation that will make it crystal clear – and give Parliament the opportunity to confirm – that Rwanda for all of these purposes is a safe place to implement our scheme.

“And I won’t let a foreign court stop us from getting flights off to Rwanda.

“This is a reasonable country. This is a reasonable government.

“But people’s patience has run thin and we have got to end this merry-go-round. And that is what I am determined to do.”

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