Tory deputy chairmen Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith resign after backing Rwanda bill amendments | Politics News

Two deputy chairs of the Conservative Party have resigned from their roles after they both supported rebel amendments to Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda bill.

Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith both said they would support proposed changes designed to toughen up Mr Sunak’s bill, which seeks to declare Rwanda a safe country to deport asylum seekers to.

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Jane Stevenson, a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) in the Department for Business and Trade, also said she would support rebel amendments to the Rwanda Bill.

On Tuesday night MPs voted on a series of amendments to the bill, including one submitted by veteran Tory MP Sir Bill Cash, whose amendment sought to disapply international law with regards to Rwanda being a safe country

In total 70 rebels backed the amendment.

However, the amendment still passed by 529 votes to 68, leaving a majority of 461.

In a joint resignation letter, Mr Anderson and Mr Clarke-Smith said they supported the amendments “not because we are against the legislation, but because like everybody else we want it to work”.

“This task is not an easy one and we appreciate the fine balance that must be struck,” they added.

“As two people who have been on very different political journeys, one as a person who followed the same path many voters did for the first time at the last general election and another who has been a lifelong Conservative Party supporter, it has been a huge honour for both of us to serve as deputy chairmen of the party.

“Our support for the party and this government remains as strong as ever and that is why we are so passionate about making this legislation work.

“However, we fully appreciate that with such important roles there is also the issue of being bound by collective responsibility.

“It is with this in mind that we fully appreciate that whilst our main wish is to strengthen the legislation, this means that in order to vote for amendments we will therefore need to offer you our resignations from our roles.”

On Monday night, Mr Anderson and Mr Clarke-Smith confirmed they would back rebel amendments to the bill, paving the way for them to resign or be sacked.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said: “Sunak’s Rwanda scheme just won’t work – and even the deputy chairmen of his own party know it.

“Rishi Sunak has yet again been embarrassed by his own MPs.

“If the prime minister can’t even settle squabbles in his own party, how can he be expected to run the country?”