Robert Jenrick's resignation as Secretary of State for Immigration has provoked a new and sudden crisis in Rishi Sunak's government, a day after the signing of a treaty with Rwanda for the deportation to the African country of thousands of immigrants pending asylum applications.
Jenrick justified his resignation by alleging "a profound disagreement with the direction that the government's immigration policy has taken." His resignation comes three weeks after the dismissal as home secretary of Suella Braverman, who is now threatening to lead a revolt against the prime minister in Parliament.
Sunak has announced a new emergency law following the Supreme Court's decision to declare the Rwanda plan "illegal" on the grounds that migrants can be repatriated to their place of origin.
The prime minister is confident of ultimately winning the legal battle with the new Rwanda treaty and the changes introduced by the emergency law. Sunak was leaning on the impetus given to the Rwanda plan by his new home secretary, James Cleverly, who travelled to Kirali on Tuesday to announce the new treaty.
Robert Jenrick, however, resigned a few hours later as head of Immigration and exposed the divisions within the government. Like Suella Braverman, Jenrick was in favour of going further and pushing for the UK's exit from the European Convention on Human Rights, to ensure that no "foreign" court can once again block the take-off of planes carrying migrants to Rwanda, as happened in June 2022 (with Boris Johnson as prime minister).
The right wing of the Conservative Party, spurred on by the so-called European Research Group, have realigned in favour of the hardest line on immigration policy, in another of the final "blows" of Brexit that may put Sunak in a bind in the countdown to the 2024 elections.
In his resignation letter, Jenrick stresses that the emergency law does not offer "sufficient protections" to prevent future legal interference. The resigned secretary of state even said that the law "does not have the best possible guarantee of success" in Parliament in its current wording.
- United Kingdom