UK ministers set to toughen migration bill to head off rightwing rebellion

UK Home Office ministers are expected on Monday to commit to further restricting migrants’ rights in a bid to head off a rebellion by Tory backbenchers over the new Illegal Migration bill.

Amendments are expected to include measures that will bar domestic courts from blocking the removal of migrants from the UK to a third country such as Rwanda.

In return a group of as many as 60 Tory rebels from the party’s right, including Stoke-on-Trent MP Jonathan Gullis and Devizes MP Danny Kruger, are expected to withdraw their own amendments that would have made the already tough measures still more uncompromising.

Two of the MPs involved and one person working with the backbenchers confirmed there had been discussions about a deal with ministers since late last week.

The legislation, which will be debated in the Commons from Monday, will bar anyone entering the country illegally from lodging a claim for asylum in the UK and oblige the home secretary to remove them to a third country. The government has already struck a deal with Rwanda to process UK asylum claims there.

Ministers say the bill is designed to deter would-be refugees from coming to the UK in small boats. Nearly 45,000 crossed the channel last year.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, was forced to admit earlier this month that provisions of the controversial bill could breach the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned on Friday that the bill would also breach the UK’s obligations under the United Nations refugee convention.

There have also been a series of challenges to existing legislation intended to force migrants’ removal to Rwanda that have ensured no one has yet been sent there.

Some “One Nation” moderate Conservatives have put down amendments to the bill that would soften its provisions by barring the removal from the UK of children seeking asylum and obliging ministers to expand the number of safe and legal routes for people fleeing danger and persecution to reach the UK.

The rebels on the Tory right have sought to close what they regard as loopholes that could allow challenges to removals in the UK courts.

Two MPs from the group and a person working for them confirmed that they expected ministers to commit to “serious engagement” with the issues raised by their proposals. Government-backed amendments addressing their concerns could be added later in the bill’s passage through parliament.

However, a Home Office insider insisted no deal had been done.

Gullis said the amendments were intended to ensure the government could deliver not only the bill but its wider promise to “stop the boats”, a key pledge by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“We believe that UK courts should not be able to issue injunctions to prevent us from removing immigrants to safe third countries like Rwanda,” said Gullis.

The result was an agreement that the rebels will withdraw their amendments provided they receive a satisfactory public commitment from a minister to “meaningful engagement” with their efforts to make the bill tougher.

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