Tory Fears and PM’s Defiance
Tensions within the Conservative party are reaching a boiling point, with fears emerging that Chancellor Rishi Sunak could be pushed into a snap election.
The Prime Minister, at a hastily-arranged Downing Street press conference, dismissed the rebellion among MPs regarding new emergency legislation aimed at initiating deportation flights.
Despite facing setbacks, including the dramatic resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick, Sunak remains resolute in pushing the controversial Rwanda Bill.
Rumors of Leadership Challenge and Febrile Atmosphere
Speculation is rife at Westminster, with rumors of letters being sent to trigger a Tory vote for a leadership challenge.
The threshold for triggering such a vote is 53 letters, and party chair Richard Holden deems it ‘insane’ to change leaders again.
However, the atmosphere remains febrile, and uncertainties loom over the consequences of potential defeat on the Rwanda Bill, requiring only 29 MPs to switch sides.
Sunak’s Ultimatum and Potential Election Scenarios
During a tense press conference, Sunak insisted on getting deportation flights off the ground to deter illegal migrants. While rejecting the notion of a confidence issue, the Chancellor faced questions about the possibility of calling an election if the Rwanda legislation fails.
Veteran MPs express concerns about the ‘complete mess’ surrounding the “Stop the Boats” vow, speculating on an election as party unity appears increasingly challenging.
Ministerial Reshuffle and Mixed Reactions
In response to the crisis, Sunak moved to replace Jenrick, splitting ministerial responsibility for legal and illegal migration.
Michael Tomlinson and Tom Pursglove now hold these roles, but doubts persist about the effectiveness of this reshuffle. Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman remains critical, refusing to explicitly back Sunak and calling for a change in course.
Challenges in Parliament and Potential Lords’ Opposition
With right-wing Tories, including Braverman, criticizing the Rwanda Bill as weak, doubts arise over the government’s ability to pass the legislation unamended in the Commons. The One Nation Tories, seeking legal advice, may pose a challenge.
Sunak, however, passionately defended the bill during the press conference, emphasizing its merits and the need to prevent legal challenges.
Party Chair’s Warning on Unity
Tory Chair Richard Holden addresses concerns about party unity, warning that divided parties don’t win elections. He emphasizes the positive story the Tories have to tell after 13 years in power and urges colleagues to focus on the bigger picture. The ongoing turmoil over the Rwanda bill prompts calls for unity to tackle the challenges facing the party.
Jenrick’s Resignation and Sunak’s Response
The dramatic resignation of immigration minister Robert Jenrick further complicates the situation. Sunak faces criticism for not providing powers to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights, leading to a scathing resignation letter from Jenrick.
The PM expresses disappointment and asserts the need for stronger protections.
Potential Election Scenarios and Sunak’s Leadership
As the likelihood of a Tory confidence vote increases, speculations about an election in May or even March gain traction.
Some MPs view Sunak’s leadership as crucial, with an ultimatum of ‘back me or sack me’ looming. Party chair Holden underscores the importance of unity and urges colleagues to focus on the challenges ahead.