Will The Tories Go Into The Next Election Pledging To 'Get Immigration Done'?

The move would have echoes of the Tories' successful 2019 campaign.
Boris Johnson drives his famous 'Get Brexit Done' JCB during the last general election campaign.
Boris Johnson drives his famous 'Get Brexit Done' JCB during the last general election campaign.
Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images

For someone whose shiny new Illegal Migration Bill may well break international law, Suella Braverman seemed to be enjoying herself in the House of Commons today.

With Tory MPs braying appreciatively behind her, the home secretary insisted the government was finally acting to deter asylum seekers from trying to make the perilous journey across the English Channel.

“Make no mistake,” she told MPs. “This Conservative government will act now to stop the boats.”

Except, Braverman knows that it could be a long time before the new law actually fulfils its purpose of deporting illegal immigrants back to their homeland, Rwanda or another “safe” country.

That’s because, by her own admission, the legislation may well breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a letter to MPs and peers, seen by HuffPost UK, the home secretary said there was a higher than 50 per cent chance that her bill was incompatible with the ECHR.

“Our approach is robust and novel, which is why we can’t make a definitive statement of compatibility under ... the Human Rights Act,” she told the Commons. “Of course the UK will always seek to uphold international law and I am confident that this bill is compatible with international law.”

Nevertheless, human rights lawyers will already be preparing to challenge the new law - just as they did when they successfully grounded the first flight which was meant to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda.

It is not inconceivable that by the time the next election comes around in 2024, the legislation could still be bogged down in the courts.

But while this may be bad news for Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats”, it could present the Conservatives with an opportunity that many of their MPs are eager to grasp.

Former cabinet minister Simon Clarke asked Braverman: “We all hope this legislation will succeed, but will she promise that if it is frustrated by the European Convention on Human Rights that we will commit to leave it? Because leave it we must, if in the end this legislation is forestalled.”

The scene could then be set for a re-run of the party’s 2019 election pledge to “Get Brexit Done”, only with removal from the ECHR the cornerstone of the 2024 manifesto.

Instinctively, Sunak is opposed to such a dramatic gesture, not least because it would put the UK in the same position as Russia and Belarus.

But with the opinion polls continuing to give Labour a huge lead, the temptation will be there for the prime minister to throw some seriously red meat to his backbenchers while drawing a massive dividing line with Keir Starmer's party.

It would be a tactic his arch-nemesis, Boris Johnson, would surely approve of.


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