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Rishi Sunak faces new Rwanda revolt from Tory left in fresh party turmoil - live

Moderates say they could join right-wing MPs in pushing PM to change migrants deportation bill

Rishi Sunak wins Rwanda vote despite Tory rebellion

Rishi Sunak has been hit by a fresh headache on his flagship Rwanda bill, as senior Conservatives on the left said they would join right-wing rebels in pushing for changes ahead of an expected second vote in January.

The embattled PM had believed he could count on Tory MPs in the moderate “One Nation” wing, as he fights to appease their rivals on the right who are demanding tougher deportation legislation.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk suggested the government would not cede to right-wingers by toughening up the bill, despite their threats to vote it down.

But, as No 10 prepares for crunch talks with the right-wingers over Christmas, senior Tory moderates told The Independent they were considering how to amend the bill to soften it.

Earlier, Sir Keir Starmer mocked Tory MPs who criticised Rishi Sunak in the press in PMQs.

The Labour leader goaded the Tory benches, saying: “Come on, come on. Who was it who said he’s a really bad politician? Hands up.”

Meanwhile, Mark Drakeford announced he was standing down as Welsh Labour leader, triggering a contest to find his successor.


We’re pausing for the night - be back tomorrow for more updates

Alex Ross13 December 2023 23:43

Tory minister takes brutal swipe at David Cameron over China

A Conservative cabinet minister took a swipe at David Cameron over his past support for closer ties with China in the latest sign of Tory infighting:

Tory minister takes brutal swipe at David Cameron over China

Tom Tugendhat appears to mock foreign secretary for hailing ‘golden era’ in relations with Beijing

Jane Dalton13 December 2023 22:00

Badenoch warned against accusing MP of lying

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has been warned about the use of “unparliamentary language” after she accused an MP of lying.

During an appearance at the Women and Equalities Select Committee on Wednesday, the Cabinet minister took exception with Labour MP Kate Osborne saying she had previously used “inflammatory language that likens children and young people coming out as trans to the spread of a disease”.

Ms Badenoch, who is also the Business and Trade Secretary, said: “I have never said that, that is a lie.

“That is a lie and I think you should withdraw that statement. That is a lie. You are lying.”

Ms Osborne, MP for Jarrow, said she was “not lying to you” but Ms Badenoch shot back: “You are lying. I have never used the word ‘disease’ and this is exactly what I am talking about - you are making statements at a select committee that are untrue.”

Caroline Nokes, committee chairwoman, interrupted to say: “Can I just remind the minister that that is unparliamentary language to use?”

The equalities minister said: “For many years, many transgender people were living their lives peacefully, nobody had an issue.

“It wasn’t until predators started exploiting the loopholes that we are having to tighten this.

Ms Badenoch said action was needed to protect single-sex spaces because there are “more people who are predators than there are people who are trans”.

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch (PA Wire)
Jane Dalton13 December 2023 21:00

A field guide to the varied species of Tory MP

There is a remarkable number of factions within the parliamentary Conservative party. Sean O’Grady has a spotters’ guide to the Tory tribes:

What are the so-called ‘five families’ of the Tory party in Westminster?

Infighting in the Conservative party is worse than ever, but who is in which faction? Sean O’Grady has a spotters’ guide to the Tory tribes

Jane Dalton13 December 2023 20:30

Sunak hit by new revolt from Tory left as talks set to ruin PM’s Christmas

Rishi Sunak has been hit by a fresh headache on his flagship Rwanda bill, as senior Conservative on the left said they would join right-wing rebels in pushing the PM to change the bill:

Sunak hit by new Rwanda revolt from Tory left as talks set to ruin PM’s Christmas

PM urged to defy pressure from Tory right-wingers and ‘tweak the bill in the other direction’

Jane Dalton13 December 2023 19:52

Starmer dubs Sunak festive ‘donkey’

Keir Starmer dubbed Rishi Sunak a festive “donkey” at PMQs as he said the Tory party lacked “three wise men”.

Mocking the prime minister over the Tory Christmas party, the Labour leader said: “Apparently he’s holding a Christmas party next week ... how’s the invite list looking?”

Sir Keir added: “They’ve obviously found the donkey for their nativity – the search for three wise men may take longer.”

The Labour leader went on to highlight plotting on the Tory back benches, saying Mr Sunak’s MPs were “swirling around… pretending to be members of the mafia”.

He added: “When is he going to get a grip and focus on the country?”

Jane Dalton13 December 2023 19:00

Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk grilled on Rwanda Bill

The Government is committed to “staying within the four corners of our international legal obligations”, Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk said as he was grilled on concerns around the Rwanda Bill.

Appearing before MPs and peers on the Joint Committee on Human Rights, he said: “This Bill has been carefully designed and carefully engineered to ensure, as I’ve indicated, that we can do what we need to do while staying within the four corners of our international legal obligations.”

He confirmed that even with the legislation, the UK will remain a party to the European Convention of Human Rights.

Mr Chalk, who is also the Justice Secretary, said: “The central argument we make is that so long as there is the ability of an individual to get before the court to advance their points, which might relate to their own specific circumstances, plus of course section four remains, we say that that fulfils article 13 obligations, which means that we remain within the the convention.

“As I said, that’s something we’re committed to doing.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 December 2023 18:00

Sunak labelled as ‘desperate’ and more unpopular than Boris Johnson in PMQs clash

Rishi Sunak was labelled as “desperate” and more unpopular than Boris Johnson in a heated Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (13 December). Labour MP Chris Bryant launched a stinging attack and mocked him for losing WhatsApp messages in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic inquiry. Mr Bryant asked: “What is worse: Losing your WhatsApp messages as a tech bro, losing £11.8bn to fraud as chancellor, presiding over the biggest fall in living standards in our history, or desperately clinging onto power when you become even more unpopular than Boris Johnson?”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 December 2023 17:30

Afghans flown to UK told to sign legal agreement with Home Office or face homelessness

Afghans who are eligible for resettlement will be flown to the UK imminently from Pakistan and told to sign a Home Office legal agreement or face homelessness.

The refugees, who have been trapped in limbo in Islamabad, have been told they will have seven days to seek legal advice before they must enter into an “excluded licence agreement” to qualify for temporary accommodation.

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer told MPs that 250 Afghans are being flown to the UK on Wednesday, with more to follow.

Holly Bancroft reports:

Afghans flown to UK told to sign legal agreement or face homelessness

Exclusive: One campaigner called the letter to the refugees explaining the housing terms ‘impenetrable’

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 December 2023 17:00

Rwanda bill should be softened ‘if anything’, says Tory moderate

The former justice secretary Robert Buckland – keen to avoid any breach of international law – has suggested the Rwanda bill should be softened “if anything”.

The One Nation wing of moderates are not pushing for amendments, but have warned Rishi Sunak not to toughen the bill under pressure from the right.

However, Mr Buckland sounded as though he might be keen for a push to soften the bill.

He LBC Radio: “I can’t see any tweaks that are being suggested by some colleagues on the right that are going to make this bill work.

“If anything, it probably should be tweaked in the other direction, and if it was I would think there are numbers within the House of Commons … and certainly the House of Lords, to amend the bill to make it legally more workable.”

Warning “the battle will come” in the new year, Mr Buckland suggested he could not keep supporting the bill if it was made more draconian.

“I think that if there are amendments that further tighten up, allegedly tighten up, this bill then I think there will be a problem from people like me, frankly,” he said.

He warned against “a pointless legal fight” with the courts.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 December 2023 16:30

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