Rishi Sunak’s top team are working to prevent Tory rebels tearing the party to pieces on the brink of a general election.
They insist MPs must unite over the Government’s Rwanda legislation in a crunch vote.
Infighting erupted within the Conservative Party over the weekend because of proposed immigration legislation on Rwanda which has infuriated members of both the Tory right and left.
Some MPs on the right believe Mr Sunak’s plan will be ineffective while Tory moderates insist the proposals go too far in overriding the Human Rights Act and using the law to overrule the Supreme Court’s verdict that Rwanda is not a safe place to send asylum seekers.
MPs will vote on the principle of whether to tighten the law in response to the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Rwanda scheme last month.
Michael Gove and David Cameron joined other frontbenchers in rushing to quell tensions after the right of the party concluded the emergency legislation is not fit for purpose.
A No10 source said: “We are confident the Bill works and very much cuts down the avenues for individuals to challenge to a vanishingly small level.
“We are confident that the more we talk to MPs and share the detail behind it, they will see that’s what it does.
“There is an effort this weekend to talk to colleagues and show why Conservatives can be confident routes of appeal are virtually eliminated – just as many eminent lawyers have confirmed publicly.”
Sir Bill Cash, who has chaired a legal examination being waited on by many in the party, has signalled that the Bill is not “sufficiently watertight” despite Mr Sunak hoping it will revive his flagship asylum plan.
Housing Secretary Mr Gove insisted the Government takes the views of colleagues seriously.
He said: “But we believe this Bill is tough and robust.”
Mr Gove argued to the BBC that it is “legally sound” despite one legal assessment for the Government giving it a “50 per cent at best” chance of success, and said it only leaves “narrow” scope for court appeals.
Jack Lopresti MP, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, said the emergency legislation is a landmark bill that declares that the UK’s elected Parliament is sovereign and in control of its borders.
He added: “Whilst the Labour Party has been lining up to protest the deportation of foreign criminals and voting against immigration controls we’ve been getting on with the job.
“We will do whatever it takes to get flights off the ground.”
MPs in the European Research Group (ERG) will be meeting from noon today (MON) to hear a presentation from Sir Bill on the findings of his “Star Chamber” of legal experts.
Backbenchers in the New Conservatives, Common Sense Group, Conservative Growth Group and Northern Research Group have also been invited to join.
Sources confirmed the 100-strong moderate One Nation caucus of MPs will meet this evening (MON) to discuss the Rwanda Safety Bill, with a statement to follow at around 7pm.
READ MORE The divided Conservatives are facing a winter of discontent, says Leo McKinstry
A source for the group said: “We are cautious about the Bill and still examining carefully to make sure it does not break international treaties.”
Senior Conservative Damian Green and his band of One Nation Conservatives will aim to decide whether to oppose the legislation over concerns about breaking international law and deeming Rwanda “safe”.
Mark Francois, chairman for the ERG said: “We then aim to have a collective discussion about our best approach to the Second Reading of the Bill, on Tuesday.”
Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton was deployed over the weekend to head off a rebellion over the Bill which saw Sunak ally Robert Jenrick resign as immigration minister.
A source close to the former Prime Minister would not provide details of conversations being held in private but confirmed he speaks to MPs regularly “as part of his normal engagement”.
Conservative MP and former Brexit secretary David Davis said the proposed Rwanda legislation is the “toughest” he has ever seen and he believes the number of Tories who might rebel is “quite small”.
Mr Davis said he would be voting for the legislation.
He added: “The legislation is about the toughest immigration legislation I’ve ever seen in truth and I actually think the Prime Minister is right that it can’t go any further, for reasons I can explain if you want, and he has to take a grip of this.
“I’m pretty much the last man standing in the House of Commons when it comes to human rights matters..
“But something’s gone wrong in the asylum system – you want a measure of it, on Braverman’s watch 55 percent of Albanians were being cleared for asylum, well that’s sort of daft, you know. Albania is not a dangerous country in that sense.
“So there was something wrong, he (Sunak) had to do something and I think this is just about the only optimal point in handling this issue, this issue of the cross-Channel boats.”
Asked if it would be the end of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister if the legislation fails, Mr Davis said: “No, it isn’t.”
And asked if he has a sense of the number of MPs that might rebel, Mr Davis said “quite small, I think”, adding: “My impression from talking to colleagues is the vast majority want to get on with this.”
Mr Jenrick, who insisted he was “not interested” in running for the Tory leadership, indicated yesterday (SUN) that he might not go as far as voting against the Bill this week.
He said: “I won’t be supporting this Bill but I do think we can fix this, and that’s what I want to do now”.
Mr Gove was adamant that ministers were not thinking about launching a general election if they failed to get the Bill through Parliament.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “No, we’re not contemplating that because I’m confident that when people look at the legislation and have a chance to reflect they will recognise this is a tough but also proportionate measure.”
Former home secretary Suella Braverman, who was sacked by Mr Sunak last month, raised concerns that the legislation does not tackle the issue of temporary Rule 39 injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights, which stopped last year’s flight.
Mrs Braverman said: “I know that our Attorney General has advised that to ignore a Rule 39 injunction would be a breach of international law, so therefore as it stands Rule 39s will block flights.
Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger, co-founders of the right-wing New Conservatives group, said there are “big question marks” over the legislation.
Writing in a Sunday newspaper, they said: “There’s no point uniting around a policy that doesn’t work. That way we’ll just unite and die.”
Mr Sunak urged Sir Keir Starmer to “rise above political games” and “act in the national interest” by supporting the Bill.
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