Rishi Sunak’s deputy party chairman to join rebellion over flagship immigration bill

LONDON — Rishi Sunak’s deputy party chairman will join Tory rebels pushing to beef up the U.K. government’s flagship Rwanda legislation in a blow to the British prime minister’s authority.

Lee Anderson said Monday he will back amendments seeking to toughen the controversial Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill — which seeks to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing — ahead of key parliamentary votes on the draft law on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Anderson, a popular figure with the right of the Conservative Party, announced on X (formerly Twitter), that he will be backing amendments pushed by former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who quit Sunak’s government warning the legislation would not work in its current form, and veteran Brexiteer Bill Cash.

Cash wants the bill to “prevent any international law, including the ECHR, from being considered in future legal cases against the Rwanda policy,” while Jenrick is pushing to make it harder for migrants to challenge a deportation to Rwanda. 

While Anderson holds a senior party post as a deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, he is not a member of the government meaning he is not bound by ministerial collective responsibility. Sunak will however come under pressure to sack him given the challenge to his authority over a flagship piece of legislation.

Sunak introduced emergency legislation on his Rwanda plan in December after the Supreme Court ruled that his plan was unlawful.

The Prime Minister has faced backlash from different wings of his party over the detail of the legislation, with the Conservative right seeing it as too soft, and those in the centre of his party or on opposite benches warning it goes too far.