More on the deportation to Rwanda: minister resigns, Tories split, people expect harsh measures

Author Alexander Tatiev
Category Columnists, Town
Date December 8 2023
Reading Time 2 min.

More on the deportation to Rwanda: minister resigns, Tories split, people expect harsh measures

The Conservative Party is grappling with internal disagreements following the unexpected resignation of Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick. He left Downing Street after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak proposed a project called the “Rwanda Security Act,” aimed at resolving the controversial scheme of sending asylum seekers to the African country.

On November 15, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the proposed deportation scheme, aimed at sending thousands of asylum seekers and migrants to Rwanda, is illegal. The new bill designates Rwanda as a safe country and aims to bypass certain sections of the UK Human Rights Act.

The bill resulted from Home Secretary James Cleverly’s trip to Rwanda and consultations with African partners on the expanded migration agreement. The document ensures the safety of asylum seekers in the country and empowers courts to disregard European Court of Human Rights prohibitions. The government’s goal is to prevent illegal entry into the UK, primarily via the English Channel. In a broader context, this is part of a plan to stabilisemigration and reduce asylum system expenses.

Jenrick, once considered a loyal political ally of Sunak, sharply criticised the proposed bill in his resignation statement, describing it as a “triumph of hope over experience.” He expressed doubt that the new document would effectively address the legal issues associated with the deportation plan to Rwanda and, as a result, would intensify disagreements within the prime minister’s inner circle.

Although Sunak called Jenrick’s departure “disappointing” and a “fundamental misunderstanding of the situation,” high-ranking Tory MPs express deep concern about the consequences of the resignation. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve stated that the party is experiencing an ideological split of unprecedented proportions: “What we are witnessing now is a division between those who believe in the supremacy of the law and those who don’t believe in it at all.”

Former minister Andrea Jenkins, a staunch supporter of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, suggested that Jenrick’s resignation could spell trouble for Sunak’s cabinet, anticipating the “beginning of the end” of his political career. However, former Treasury Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, while expressing regret over the immigration minister’s departure, remained optimistic about the effectiveness of the new agreement and deportation policy to Rwanda. Yet, moderate Conservatives associated with the “One Nation” group caution against supporting the bill, which could be perceived as disregarding human rights.

As Sunak, facing a challenging task, seeks support from both right-wing and moderate Tory factions within the party, the future of the Rwanda agreement remains uncertain. Jenrick’s resignation highlights deep-seated issues within the Conservative Party, especially regarding immigration policy, and his dismissal is seen as a strategic decision ahead of upcoming elections.

The Tory party has faced criticism from the right on immigration issues before, accused of having rhetoric far from actual policy. Critics point out the mismatch between tough statements and real achievementsimmigration from non-EU countries continues to rise. The lack of analysis evaluating the real benefits and challenges of immigration, considering societal changes after previous waves of emigration, is also mentioned.

Surveys and analytics show that the majority of the electorate is concerned about the immigration issue, especially legal immigration more than illegal. Jenrick’s measures to address the problem, such as the ban on social sector workers bringing their family members, are largely considered insufficient. Thus, there is an evident imbalance between the views of conservatives and the broader public.