The right wing of the British Conservative Party has lost the battle over asylum policy, but it may win the war.
A victory which in this case would mean that the Conservatives would once again have to change their leader.
On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak won approval from the House of Commons for a controversial plan to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda.
Boris Johnson originally launched the plan in the spring of 2022, as an expression of Brexit's mantra of taking back control of Britain's borders and immigration.
The aim was to stifle migration across the English Channel. In 2021, 29,000 migrants arrived in the UK by sea. The following year, the number reached 45,755, according to Immigration authorities in the United Kingdom.
Similar to a 2012 Australian law that made it possible to limit the flow of migrants from neighboring Asian countries, Bogo wanted to deport illegal asylum seekers to Africa.
The experience was that migrants who risked ending up in a detention camp in a completely different country did not take the opportunity to go to Australia.
An agreement was concluded with Rwanda, and the British paid NOK 3.2 billion to the East African country.
But Johnson's government has not investigated the legal basis for unilaterally ignoring international law. Details were never BoJo's thing.
Thus several courts blocked the proposal before the British Supreme Court unanimously ruled that it was illegal. Because asylum seekers sent to Rwanda were at risk of being sent to countries where they risked being mistreated or killed.
The plane that was supposed to transport the first batch of a total of 1,000 migrants to Rwanda in the early summer of 2022 never took off. It is still uncertain whether it will take off or not.
In the Senate, which must approve the new laws, there are great doubts.
The asylum fad came on top of a number of other Boris scandals, which, in short, led to the Conservative Party in June 2022 raising a motion of no confidence in his Prime Minister.
When several ministers later resigned in protest against Pujo's party, the existing Conservative government disintegrated.
Since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister in October 2022, he has prepared the legal basis for a tight bill on asylum exports to Rwanda. It is a proposal that could obtain a majority in both houses of Parliament, and at least survive investigations in international courts as well as the European Commission for Human Rights.
So do you think the Conservatives were very happy with a pragmatic Prime Minister able to entrench party policy in the National Assembly and lead one of their most important issues into new law?
on the contrary.
And speaking of enough to deeply divide the Conservative Party, this is where Sunak has received the most opposition.
When the bill was approved in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening, on its third attempt, it managed to quell an internal Conservative rebellion involving 60 representatives from the party's hard-right factions the day before.
In the penultimate round, they rejected Sunak's proposal. Officially because it didn't go far enough. Unofficially because they wanted to send him a signal that he was at their mercy.
On Wednesday, “only” 11 Conservative MPs voted against the resolution. But one of them was the original godmother of the Rwanda plan, former Interior Minister Suella Braverman.
In addition, the victory cost him Immigration Secretary Robert Jenrick. He believed the same opinion as the Tory rebels, and resigned.
Two others who followed Jenrick were the party's two senior deputy leaders, Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith. At the instigation of Boris Johnson, who did not fail to recall that Rishi Sunak said no to the Rwanda plan when he presented it himself.
How BoJo is now saying no to the plan he originally voted for.
Ostensibly, it is about immigration. But at home there is a battle for the soul of the Conservative Party.
Whether the Conservatives should form a so-called “One Nation Conservative Party” – a broad and moderate popular party. Or whether the party should sharpen its dark blue rhetoric in order to attract a more extreme right wing.
Because it's an election year, we should know.
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