UK immigration minister quits after new Rwanda legislation unveiled

LONDON, Dec 7: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been rocked by the resignation of his immigration minister after rejecting demands to opt out of European human rights laws to revive the Rwanda policy.

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”, reported PA Media.

Sunak’s long-term political ally argued that he had to quit because he has “such strong disagreements” with the Government’s approach to immigration.

Jenrick had been seen as taking an increasingly firm approach over plans to stop asylum seekers making unauthorized crossings of the Channel in small boats in recent weeks.

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 providing powers to dismiss the European Convention on Human Rights, as hardliners including sacked home secretary Suella Braverman have demanded.

Braverman’s allies made clear that the bill is “fatally flawed”, indicating that she believes it will quickly lead the Tories into “electoral oblivion”.

Sunak reportedly told Conservative backbenchers at the 1922 Committee shortly before Jenrick’s resignation became apparent that they must “unite or die”.

The immigration minister had been conspicuously absent during a statement to the Commons on the new legislation by James Cleverly, who has been Home Secretary for less than a month.

Shortly after Cleverly confirmed the resignation of the minister from his department, Jenrick published his departure letter to the prime minister on social media.

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

“A Bill of the kind you are proposing is a triumph of hope over experience,” he wrote.

“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.”

Having supported Sunak in both of last year’s Tory leadership contests, Jenrick reminded him that they have been “friends for a long time”, but said they must do “whatever it takes” to stop small boats crossing the Channel.

“This emergency legislation is the last opportunity to prove this, but in its current drafting it does not go far enough,” he added.