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Can Rishi Sunak rescue his Rwanda plan and will Labour really help him?

The prime minister is determined to push on with the policy despite right-wing resistance from within his own party and a hostile opposition, says Sean O’Grady

Thursday 07 December 2023 18:46 GMT
Sunak calls an emergency press conference at Downing Street on Thursday
Sunak calls an emergency press conference at Downing Street on Thursday (Getty)

In what may prove to be an ill-advised strategy, the prime minister used an emergency press conference to press the case for his emergency legislation to rescue the Rwanda refugee deportation plan – and perhaps also end his personal political emergency. Rishi Sunak assured us his new bill will settle legal concerns raised by the Supreme Court. “We have blocked all the ways that illegal migrants will try and stay,” he said. “We have set the bar so high that it will be vanishingly rare to meet it.”

In doubling down on the Rwanda plan, and by trying to create a sense of urgency, Mr Sunak hopes to turn an embarrassing and expensive flop into an election winner. Despite sacking Suella Braverman, and suffering the damaging resignation of his former ally Robert Jenrick as immigration minister, Mr Sunak still seems determined to press on with the policy. He had already made “Stop the Boats” one of his five “people’s priorities” and has now further raised the profile of the immigration issue further. It may not have been wise.

What does Sunak want?

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