Rishi Sunak insists we will stop the boats in frantic rallying cry to MPs

Rishi Sunak told warring Tory MPs to “look at the facts” in a frantic address to the nation this morning over the chaos hitting the Conservative Party. The Prime Minister, who warned his patience was “wearing thin”, called an emergency press conference after the publication of legislation aimed at getting Rwanda flights off the ground triggered the dramatic resignation of a key Home Office minister.

Addressing the nation from Number 10 Downing Street, Mr Sunak claimed his new Bill “fundamentally addresses” the concerns of the Supreme Court. He said: “Today’s Bill ends the merry-go-round of legal challenges that have blocked our policy for so long.”

He went on to warn the Rwandans have made clear that if the Government went any further, the entire scheme would “collapse”. He said: “I will not allow a foreign court to block these plans. It is your Government, not criminal gangs, or indeed foreign courts, who decide who comes here.”

Mr Sunak pointed to the return of 5,000 people and the drop by a third of small boats arrivals to the UK as evidence that his plan was working. He said: “We will get flights off the ground and we will finally stop the boats.”

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Robert Jenrick quit the Government last night with a swipe at the PM shortly after a bombshell personal statement delivered in the House of Commons by the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman in which she warned the Tory Party was facing “electoral oblivion”. Whether or not the PM can get the so-called Rwanda Bill through the House of Commons is being seen as major a test of his leadership and is being likened to the Brexit wars faced by Theresa May in 2018.

There have been reports that Mr Sunak is considering making the Rwanda Bill a vote of confidence in his Government, which means he may be forced to call a general election if he loses. It also crucially means any Tories who rebel against the Government may have the whip removed and be barred from standing as Conservatives at the next election.

Governments attaching confidence votes to legislation usually do so in a desperate attempt to instil party discipline if they do think they have the votes to win. But asked on the issue of a confidence vote, the PM was defiant.

He said: “Look at the facts. We have a plan.” Responding, a former Downing Street aide told Express.co.uk: “So next week’s vote won’t be treated as a confidence vote – weak, weak, weak.”

It comes after his former Home Secretary gave a withering verdict on the legislation during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday morning. Speaking to Nick Robinson, Ms Braverman said: “We can’t do half measures. We have to totally exclude international law, Refugee Convention, and other broader avenues of legal challenge, because the reality is in this area of law, as we’ve seen, regrettably, in June, people will bring legal claims, they will bring challenges through the courts, and those challenges will operate to block flights to Rwanda.”


She added: “We are all Conservatives. I want this PM to fulfil the promise that he made to stop the boats. He said he would do whatever it takes. I’ve told him what it will take to stop the boats. It is his choice as to what he does.

“And I’m urging him to take up the advice and the feedback that colleagues who are well-intentioned and want us all to win so that he can actually fulfil the promise which has been made to the British people.”

But Cabinet minister Chris Heaton-Harris was on the airwaves this morning to defend the Government and downplay Tory divisions over the controversial Rwanda policy. He denied that the Government’s new Rwanda legislation is “dead on arrival” following the resignation of Robert Jenrick last night.

The Northern Ireland Secretary told Sky News: “The policy of stopping the boats is something that actually does unite the Conservative Party. There are elements in this Bill where people would like to go further… there are also people that say this goes too far.

“I actually think this Bill strikes the right balance. It is a really strong group of measures to try and stop the boats in a completely legal and justifiable way. And I think it will work.”

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