LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was rocked by a double resignation Tuesday evening, ahead of an impending clash with Conservative rebels over his Rwanda migration policy.
A Conservative Party official confirmed that Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith have quit their roles as deputy chairmen of the Conservative Party — a non-government role which saw the men lead on campaigning for the party.
Both men had confirmed their intention to rebel against the government in a set of key votes Tuesday night.
The House of Commons will vote on amendments put forward by MPs on Sunak’s Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill — which aims to permanently deport asylum seekers to the central African nation. Sunak put forward the emergency legislation after the Supreme Court ruled that his Rwanda plan was unlawful in November.
But Tory MPs including Anderson and Clarke-Smith have raised concerns over the bill, arguing that it won’t work in its current form. As many as 70 Tory MPs are expected to rebel against the government by voting for amendments aimed at toughening it up — though the government is not expected to lose those votes given the rebels don’t have the support of the opposition Labour Party. MPs are expected to vote on the bill in full again on Wednesday.
In a joint resignation letter, Anderson — who is popular with the right of the Conservative Party — and Clarke-Smith said the government has “already had two pieces of legislation thwarted by a system that does not work in favor of the British people.”
“It is for this reason that we have supported the amendments to the Rwanda Bill,” they added. “This is not because we are against the legislation, but because like everybody else we want it to work.”
Dan Bloom contributed reporting.