Rishi Sunak's MPs to throw out key Lords changes to flagship Rwanda Bill to ram it through Parliament in days

Rishi Sunak's MPs to throw out key Lords changes to flagship Rwanda Bill to ram it through Parliament in days

MPs were on Monday set to largely throw out seven amendments by the Lords to Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda Bill as he seeks to get it through Parliament by the end of the week.

The Commons was returning from the Easter recess and the first major item on the day’s Order Paper was the deeply controversial bill which a minister insisted aimed to ensure flights carrying asylum seekers from Britain to Kigali should be taking off “within weeks”.

MPs will consider amendments to the Safety of Rwanda Bill by the House of Lords, which inflicted a series of defeats against the controversial policy before rising for the spring break.

The bill aims to stop the “small boats” crossing the Channel carrying asylum seekers and economic migrants, as the Government tries to control immigration into Britain.

But it is not yet clear that the Government has been able to find any airline to operate the deportation flights, or whether the legislation for the policy, which was previously branded unlawful by the Supreme Court, will face further delays by the courts.

The Government will seek to strip out changes made by peers who want extra legal safeguards, including a provision to ensure “due regard” for domestic and international law.

But the Lords may again refuse to back the legislation when it returns to the Upper Chamber in a stand-off game of parliamentary “ping pong”.

This defiance would force MPs to reconsider the bill again, send it back to the Lords, at which stage peers are then expected to pass the legislation given that they act as a revising and scrutiny chamber.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins suggested on Sunday the Home Office is “ready to go” in implementing the plan when the Bill gets on to the statute books.

The legislation seeks to revive the Government’s plan to send some asylum seekers on a one-way flight to Kigali, which has faced a series of setbacks since it was announced two years ago by then-prime minister Boris Johnson.

It controversially declares the east African country is safe after the policy was grounded by the Supreme Court ruling the scheme was unlawful, on safety for asylum seeker grounds.

Meanwhile, the Times reported on Monday that Britain had also approached countries including Costa Rica, Armenia, Ivory Coast and Botswana a bid to replicate the scheme, which is set to cost at least £290 million, elsewhere.

The UK is in talks with the nations after Mr Sunak gave the Home Office and Foreign Office a deadline of last autumn to secure two additional deals, according to the paper.

A Government spokesperson said Britain is “continuing to work with a range of international partners to tackle global illegal migration challenges”.

They said: “Our focus right now is passing the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which builds on the Illegal Migration Act, and putting plans in place to get flights off the ground as soon as possible.”

The Rwanda row is one of two significant parliamentary battles the Prime Minister faces this week, along with a crunch vote on his flagship smoking policy that will be seen as a test of his personal legacy.

The plans would restrict the sale of tobacco so that anyone turning 15 this year, or younger, will never legally be sold cigarettes.

Labour has backed the proposals, though they have faced criticism from some free-marketeering Tory MPs including Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss.

The policy is expected to be put to a free vote when it comes to the Commons for a debate on Tuesday.