People who tried to cross the Channel in freezing conditions overnight are feared to have died, with a major search and rescue operation under way for a small boat off the coast of Kent, my colleage Emily Dugan reports. Geneva Abdul has all the latest updates, including political reaction, on a separate live blog.
Good morning. As the old saying goes, “there’s no pleasing some people” – or Tory Brexiters.
Rishi Sunak got a good reception from Conservative MPs, and the Fleet Street wing of the party, for the plans he unveiled yesterday to deal with small boat crossings, including legislation next year that would ban people who arrive illegally in the UK from applying for asylum. But after PMQs the Tory MP Jonathan Gullis will propose his asylum seekers (removal to safe countries) bill under the 10-minute rule procedure, a Commons rule that allows a backbencher to argue for a bill with a 10-minute speech in the middle of proceedings, even though it has almost no chance of becoming law.
The bill would allow the government to remove asylum seekers even if that is against the European convention on human rights, or other international law.
Why does that matter? Because when Sunak proposed his new legislation in the Commons yesterday, he refused to say whether he was willing to withdraw the UK from the European convention on human rights if that turned out to be the only means by which he could actually do what he said he wanted to do.
This is what some Tory Brexiters want (including Suella Braverman, the home secretary, who told the Tory conference that she personally favoured withdrawal from the EHCR). But other Tories regard the prospect with horror (not least because it would blow up the Good Friday agreement, which is based on the UK remaining party to the convention), and in his statement to MPs yesterday Sunak repeatedly dodged questions about whether he was prepared, if necessary, to withdraw from the convention, or other international treaties protecting the rights of refugees.
The Gullis bill will not become law. But MPs do sometimes vote on 10-minute rule motion, and it is thought there will be a vote today. Even if Gullis were to lose (as is likely), a division could enable him to show how many Tory MPs there are who support him – and who, by implication, want to see Sunak toughen his line on asylum still further.
And two of his backers are highly significant. Boris Johnson, the former PM, and Priti Patel, the former home secretary, are co-sponsors of the bill. Gullis told TalkTV last night that Johnson was “very pleased to back a bill that actually enacted what he and Priti had been working on side by side”.
Other co-sponsors of the bill reportedly include Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries and Tim Loughton.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.45am: Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan police commissioner, gives evidence to the Commons home affairs committee.
12pm: Rishi Sunak faces Keir Starmer at PMQs.
After 12.30pm: The Tory MP Jonathan Gullis presents a 10-minute rule bill that would allow the government to remove asylum seekers even if that is against the European convention on human rights, or other international law.
Afternoon: The King visits parliament.
4.15pm: Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy PM, gives evidence to the joint committee on human rights on the bill of rights.
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