The government is “not contemplating” an early general election because ministers are “confident” the Rwanda bill will be approved by MPs, Michael Gove has told Sky News.
Speaking to the Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme, the cabinet minister said the emergency legislation was “a tough but also proportionate measure”.
The levelling up secretary also indicated the government was open to making changes to the controversial draft law, which has split the Conservative Party, as it faces a crucial first vote in the Commons on Tuesday.
Asked if there will be an early election if the Rwanda bill does not pass the Commons, Mr Gove said: “No we’re not contemplating that because I’m confident that when people look at the legislation – and have a chance to reflect – that they will recognise that this is a tough but also proportionate measure.
“And of course, we will listen to opinion within the House of Commons.”
It came as Rishi Sunak was dealt a fresh blow by members of his own party, who have concluded his Rwanda bill is not fit for purpose.
Lawyers on the Tory right have said that the legislation is not “sufficiently watertight” – meaning illegal migrants could begin prolonged legal challenges in an attempt to stay in the UK.
The European Research Group believes the law’s current wording will fail to help achieve the objective of deporting those who cross the Channel in small boats.
Sir Bill Cash, who chaired the legal assessment, told The Sunday Telegraph that he hopes the report will help the government decide whether the bill needs further amendments.
More moderate Tories are weighing up whether they can support the plans amid concerns about compelling courts to find Rwanda is a “safe” country to send asylum seekers.
Conservative former cabinet minister David Davis told Phillips he would be backing the bill.
He said: “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.
“He has to take a grip of this.
“I actually think this is a really hard piece of law… it’s literally written on the decision of the Supreme Court.”
He also had a dig at sacked home secretary Suella Braverman, who has been scathing of the approach being taken by Mr Sunak and the Home Office.
Mr Davis said: “It’s a tough job… but it’s all very well for her to come along and blame everybody else now.
“She’s been in charge of this department for well over a year, and it didn’t improve.”
Warning colleagues against manouvreing over a potential future leadership bid, he pointed out “people who trade off their own future against the future of the party always lose”.
Last night, Mr Sunak attacked Labour’s illegal migration policy – as Sir Keir Starmer in turn accused the Conservatives of “fighting like rats in a sack”.
The prime minister has called on Labour to “rise above political games” and back his emergency legislation, even though Mr Sunak is currently battling to keep his own MPs on side.
It comes after Robert Jenrick resigned as immigration minister on Wednesday – claiming the Rwanda bill would spark a “merry-go-round” of legal challenges because it was too weak.