Rwanda bill is ‘incomplete solution’, Tory MPs told; Sunak defends Johnson’s Covid decision-making – UK politics live | Politics – Freedom Voice


Rwanda bill ‘partial and incomplete solution’ to small boats problem, Tory MPs told by ERG’s ‘star chamber’

The Conservative European Research Group has been told by its legal “star chamber” that the government’s Rwanda bill is a “partial and incomplete solution” to the problem posed by small boats, Aubrey Allegretti from the Times reports.

ERG Star Chamber says that Rwanda bill is a “partial and incomplete solution to the problem of legal challenges in the UK courts” to “delay or defeat the removal” of migrants

NEW: ERG Star Chamber says that Rwanda bill is a “partial and incomplete solution to the problem of legal challenges in the UK courts” to “delay or defeat the removal” of migrants.

— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) December 11, 2023

UPDATE: Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt has posted the ERG announcement on X.

Key events

Back at the Commons, the ERG is meeting again tonight, ITV’s Carl Dinnen reports.

The ERG and others won’t yet commit to how they plan to vote.

The ERG and others won’t yet commit to how they plan to vote.

— Carl Dinnen (@carldinnen) December 11, 2023

They will meet again at 6pm to hear from Robert Jenrick.

They will meet again at 6pm to hear from Robert Jenrick.

— Carl Dinnen (@carldinnen) December 11, 2023

Back at the Covid inquiry Hugo Keith KC is now asking about the opening up measures planned for the summer.

Rishi Sunak says the scheme was delayed at one point because of the concerns of the scientists.

And he says asymptomatic transmission was not well understood at the time.

Q: Are you saying at the end of June you were not aware that the plans were at the riskier end of the spectrum, and that real care would have to be taken.

Sunak says he knew opening schools was a risk.

But the European Research Group won’t say how it will advise its members to vote in the second reading debate tomorrow, Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt reports.

Mark Francois will not be drawn on whether the ERG will vote against the bill. Another meeting tonight to decide voting

— Nicholas Watt (@nicholaswatt) December 11, 2023

On voting Mark Francois says the bells don’t ring until 7pm tomorrow night. A lot of time to pass between now and then

— Nicholas Watt (@nicholaswatt) December 11, 2023

Mark Francois is chair of the ERG.

During Brexit, dozens of Tory MPs were members of the ERG and in most of the key Brexit votes they operated an informal whip and stuck to an agreed line (normally voting against Theresa May).

But fewer MPs identify with the ERG now (the group will not divulge how many members it has), and even if the ERG leadership advises its members to vote a certain way, there is no guarantee they will comply.

Rwanda bill ‘partial and incomplete solution’ to small boats problem, Tory MPs told by ERG’s ‘star chamber’

The Conservative European Research Group has been told by its legal “star chamber” that the government’s Rwanda bill is a “partial and incomplete solution” to the problem posed by small boats, Aubrey Allegretti from the Times reports.

ERG Star Chamber says that Rwanda bill is a “partial and incomplete solution to the problem of legal challenges in the UK courts” to “delay or defeat the removal” of migrants

NEW: ERG Star Chamber says that Rwanda bill is a “partial and incomplete solution to the problem of legal challenges in the UK courts” to “delay or defeat the removal” of migrants.

— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) December 11, 2023

UPDATE: Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt has posted the ERG announcement on X.

Keith is edging towards “eat out to help out”.

He shows the inquiry an extract from a Treasury memo from early May 2020 highlighting the importance of reopening hospitality.

Email from Sunak's PPS in May 2020
Email from Sunak’s PPS in May 2020 Photograph: Covid inquiry

Sunak points out that the government wanted to open schools and non-essential retail first.

He says there was quite a lot of resistance from schools about going back early.

He says the Treasury’s input would have focused mostly on labour market issues.

Opening schools has an impact on the labour market, because parents can return to work, he says.

Treasury was worried about its Covid economic advice to PM being ‘watered down’ by Cabinet Office, memo suggests

Keith shows Sunak a memo he was sent in April 2020, when the government was considering the timing of lifting lockdown measures. Here is one extract.

Treasury memo
Treasury memo. Photograph: Covid inquiry

But he focuses on this page, referring to the Treasury wanting the PM to see a document about the economy that has not been “watered down” by the Cabinet Office office. It is at line 3 b.

Treasury memo
Treasury memo. Photograph: Covid inquiry

Sunak says he did not write this. He says he is not sure what concerned his officials, but he says he never felt he could not express his views to the PM.

Sunak says one government gilt auction failed ahead of full lockdown, causing Treasury concern about ability to borrow

At the Covid inquiry Rishi Sunak refers to a day during the early days of the Covid crisis when the government had a failed gilt auction.

That meant the government was not able to borrow in the normal way on the money markets.

It was a rare, and worrying, event.

Hugo Keith KC says this happened at a time when the government was considering locking down London. Did that influence the decision?

Sunak says he is not sure. That is a question for the PM. But he says this shows why he was doing such a difficult job.

He says that day closing schools was proposed. The government acted.

No 10 says it will publish summary of government’s legal advice about Rwanda bill

The government will publish a summary of its legal advice about the Rwanda bill, Pippa Crerar reports. She has just come out of the No 10 lobby briefing.

NEW: No 10 says govt will published summary of legal advice on Rwanda bill today “in recognition of significant public interest”.

Very unusual move, presumably intended to aid factions of Tory MPs studying bill.

PM’s spox says still govt policy not to publish legal advice in full.

NEW: No 10 says govt will published summary of legal advice on Rwanda bill today “in recognition of significant public interest”.

Very unusual move, presumably intended to aid factions of Tory MPs studying bill.

PM’s spox says still govt policy not to publish legal advice in…

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) December 11, 2023

The inquiry has resumed, and Hugo Keith KC is asking about the “behavioural fatigue” argument – the claim that introducing the first lockdown too soon would be mistake, because after a while people would get tired of complying.

Rishi Sunak says he does not remember a lot about this debate. He says the Department of Health was on the lead on this.

According to the Sun’s Jack Elsom, Rishi Sunak has invited Tory MPs considering rebelling over the Rwanda bill to breakfast tomorrow.

Smoked salmon offensive!

I hear Rishi Sunak has invited Tory Rwanda rebels in for a breakfast meeting tomorrow morning.

If it’s the ERG lot, presumably he would do better offering them a Full English.

NEW: Smoked salmon offensive!

I hear Rishi Sunak has invited Tory Rwanda rebels in for a breakfast meeting tomorrow morning.

— Jack Elsom (@JackElsom) December 11, 2023

The Covid inquiry has stopped for a 10-minute break.

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