Rishi Sunak defends Rwanda bill as Tory right hits out

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Rishi Sunak said on Thursday that his new immigration bill fully addressed the concerns of the UK Supreme Court about his policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. 

The UK prime minister said a new treaty with Rwanda along with the legislation would “end the merry-go-round of legal challenges” that had blocked the policy to date. 

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Sunak said the bill included “notwithstanding clauses” to stymie challenges under the UK Human Rights Act and other laws.

“This bill blocks every single reason that has ever been used to stop flights to Rwanda taking off,” said Sunak.

He said the bill only allowed challenges by those who could show they were individually at risk of irreparable harm if they were sent to Rwanda.

“We have set the bar so high that it would be vanishingly rare for anyone to meet it,” he said.

The comments came as Sunak faced anger from the right of his Conservative party that the bill did not go further. On Wednesday, immigration minister Robert Jenrick resigned.

Earlier on Thursday, former home secretary Suella Braverman said the legislation “will not work” and warned the Conservative party was in a “very perilous position”.

The bill, expected to be voted on by the House of Commons next week, deemed Rwanda a “safe country” in law.

The Supreme Court last month blocked the Rwanda policy by finding the east African nation was not safe because asylum seekers faced a real risk of being sent back to their countries of origin without proper consideration of their claims.

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