Suella Braverman says Rwanda policy 'won't work', piling fresh pressure on Rishi Sunak after Robert Jenrick resignation

Thursday 7 December 2023

Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda deportation policy is doomed to fail, Suella Braverman has said as she piled fresh pressure on the Prime Minister over his strategy to stop small boats.

The former home secretary, who was sacked from her Cabinet job last month, warned that the “time for talk” on tackling illegal immigration is over.

The draft Bill compels judges to treat Rwanda as a safe country after the Supreme Court ruled the scheme was unlawful over risks to refugees.

The legislation, which must be voted on by Parliament, gives ministers the powers to disregard sections of the Human Rights Act.

But it does not go as far as allowing them to dismiss the European Convention on Human Rights, as hardliners including Mrs Braverman have demanded.

That prompted Robert Jenrick’s resignation as immigration minister just hours after Mr Sunak tabled the draft Bill, saying it “does not go far enough” and is a “triumph of hope over experience”.

Jenrick added that he was "grateful" for Mr Sunak moving towards his position on the legislation, but said he does not "believe it provides us with the best possible chance of success.

"The stakes for the country are too high for us not to pursue the stronger protections required to end the merry-go-round of legal challenges which risk paralysing the scheme and negating its intended deterrent."

Robert Jenrick told the Prime Minister on Wednesday that his new draft legislation aimed at stopping small boat crossings "does not go far enough" and is a "triumph of hope over experience."

Boeing 767 sits on the runway at the military base in Amesbury, Salisbury, on June 14, 2022, preparing to take a number of asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

Suella Braverman visits Bwiza Riverside Houses in Kigali, Rwanda.

Mrs Braverman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday: “There are elements that should be welcomed in this new Bill that the Prime Minister has presented.

“But taken as a whole and looking at the reality of the challenges that are involved in detaining people, removing people and getting them to Rwanda – this is a very litigious field and there are lots of legal frameworks that apply – the reality is and the sorry truth is that it won’t work and it will not stop the boats.”

Mrs Braverman, who had warned on Wednesday that the Conservatives face “electoral oblivion in a matter of months” if they introduce emergency Rwanda legislation which is “destined to fail”, denied that the Tories have a “death wish”.

But she said the “time for talk” on tackling illegal immigration is over.

Mrs Braverman said: “The Prime Minister made the promise to stop the boats at the beginning of the year. We now need to deliver on that pledge.

“The time for talk, the time for slogans and promises is over. We need to show delivery and that’s what this debate right now is all about.”

Cabinet minister Chris Heaton-Harris attempted to play down Tory divisions over the Rwanda policy following Mr Jenrick’s departure.

Asked if the vote on the Safety of Rwanda Bill would be treated as a matter of confidence in the Prime Minister, the Northern Ireland Secretary told Sky News that was a decision for the whips but “I can’t see why it would need to be because I think all Conservatives will vote for it”.

Asked if the Prime Minister would face a confidence vote, Mr Heaton-Harris told LBC: “I think it’s highly unlikely, very unlikely. I’d say vanishingly small.”