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Rishi Sunak struggling to maintain voter coalition that delivered 2019 victory, according to Sky News voter panel | Politics News

Rishi Sunak is failing to hold together the voting coalition that delivered Boris Johnson a decisive victory in the 2019 general election, according to The Voters Panel on Sky News – launched today. 

A profound unhappiness with the state of the country and exhaustion at years of Tory chaos means 2019 Tory voters will flock to at least four rival parties or stay at home at the next election.

Some describe themselves as swing voters, while others say they have backed the Tories all their lives, and this is the group Conservative headquarters and campaign chief Isaac Levido believes is key to the next election.

We found just over a fifth of Tory voters will switch directly to Labour and there is a grasp of what Labour stands for among participants in The Voters Panel, the Sky News-YouGov digital community group launched today reveals.

Rishi Sunak. Pic: PA
Pic: PA

However, the depth of despair in the governing party means the relationship between the party and many voters has shattered and they are looking for a new home.

For the next two weeks, including through the budget next Wednesday, Sky News will be regularly interrogating The Voters Panel – an online group of at least 33 people from all corners of Great Britain.

Of the 33 submitting answers so far, nine say they will likely stick with the Conservatives, seven will go to Labour, five to Reform, two to the Lib Dems and one to Green.

Politics latest: Ousted Post Office chair says he’s victim of ‘smear campaign’

Eight say they aren’t sure, although three of these rule out voting Conservative. This echoes the latest polls.

The last YouGov voting poll suggested of those who voted Tory in 2019, 33% would stick with the party, 20% would switch to Reform, 13% to Labour, 3% to Lib Dem and 1% would go to the Green Party.

Some 29% say they don’t know or would not vote. This suggests that The Voters Panel looks very reflective of the national picture and will be used in the coming days to dig much deeper into voters’ views.

Here are the words people used to described Rishi Sunak – the bigger they are, the more commonly used they were

The headlines, drawn from dozens of videos and written exercises by the panel of 2019 Tory voters since Friday, include:

A despair at the state of public services. Katrin, who will vote anyone but Tory next time, says schools are “struggling”, the NHS is “underfunded” and needs a cash injection and the economy is “failing”.

Helen, who is unsure where to take her vote now, says: “I am quite worried about the state of the country at the moment. It’s not just me that I need to think about, I’ve also got two young children.”

Michael, who will stick with the Tories, says: “The government doesn’t seem willing to back down to the doctors to give them a decent pay rise.”

Michael says the government seems to be unwilling to give doctors a 'decent pay rise'
Michael says the government seems to be unwilling to give doctors a ‘decent pay rise’

Concern about the cost of living isn’t matched by demands for tax cuts. Several of The Voters Panel have brought up the cost of living, and the pressures this brings, although there is an appreciation this is in part the consequence of COVID and the war in Ukraine – both out of the government’s control. However, this does not translate into spontaneous demands for tax cuts, beyond a tiny number of people already sticking with the Tories.

There is a desire to punish the Tories. The anger felt towards the political chaos of recent years does not appear to have softened and was brought up spontaneously by a majority of panellists. Snezzana says the party she voted for in the last election is “destroying the country and the economy” and she will switch to Labour.

Snezzana says the Tories are "destroying the country and the economy" and she will switch to Labour.
Snezzana says the Tories are “destroying the country and the economy” and she will switch to Labour.

Paul, who will switch to the Greens, won’t back the Tories again after the “chaos since Boris was in charge”. Jyoti will not vote Tory again “because Brexit and COVID were all disasters” and while more recently unlikely to back Labour, could go to either end of the political spectrum and back Reform or Lib Dem.

• There is uncertainty about Sir Keir Starmer and Labour. Emma, who doesn’t know how to vote next time, says: “Starmer is someone that sits on the fence quite a lot.” Tom – who says he will vote Labour – says Sir Keir has moved Labour to the centre but “is not a 100% sure on what their manifesto will contain”, adding: “Is he a capable leader? I don’t know, we’ll find out.”

• Sir Keir is “indecisive” and “unbelievable”. Mr Sunak “rich” “unelected and “untrustworthy”. The words used to describe the leaders of the two main parties are largely unforgiving by our participants. Mr Sunak is also weak, disconnected; though seen as competent and intelligent. Sir Keir is known to be a lawyer but “hypocrite” looms large.

• Some, but not many, key messages from the parties, are getting through. David, who is switching to Labour, is one of the few to acknowledge Sir Keir “from a not-as-well-off background. He’s had family problems”.

Paul, who is sticking with the Tories, mimicked Mr Sunak’s slogan by saying “My worry is now…. the Labour Party will get in and we’ll be back to square one” and says “we need to stick with them, see this plan through”.

 David will switch to Labour
David will switch to Labour

• Not everybody thinks it’s ‘time for a change’. After 14 years, a minority think that it is not time for a change. All three who suggest this are sticking with the Tories.

• Cut-through moments matter. Widely shared moments on social media are shaping perceptions. Paul, who will vote for the Greens, referenced the bet between Mr Sunak and Piers Morgan as evidence of Mr Sunak’s wealth, suggesting it means he is “obviously rich and I think that puts him a bit out of touch with people. The recent interview where he bet the interviewer a thousand pounds, was a bit not nice to see. Makes him out of touch, especially when people are going paycheck to paycheck”.

Read more:
Sunak ‘made calculation he doesn’t need Muslim voters’, claims Tory MP

Voters braced for deluge of Facebook and Instagram messages

The results of this community group – with so few directly switching Tory to Labour – may lead some Tory supporters to conclude that the next election is not lost, arguing Labour has not sealed the deal with the electorate. There are some glimmers of hope for the Tories. However, direct Tory-to-Labour switching may not be the decisive factor in the result.

The 1997 Labour landslide was driven, in part, by Tories staying at home rather than a surge of enthusiasm for Tony Blair.

Here is a similar so-called ‘word cloud’ for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

In 1992, John Major got more votes than any leader at any election ever and a big drop in turnout – from 77.7% to 71.3% in 1997 – was a big part of Blair’s 179 majority. Jeremy Corbyn lost almost 3 million votes between 2017 and 2019, and that was instrumental in the Tory majority of 80.

This community group still suggests less than a third of Conservative voters would stick with the Tories in an upcoming election. This remains an existential challenge for the prime minister.

Lee Anderson’s comments against Sadiq Khan ‘weren’t acceptable, they were wrong’, says Rishi Sunak | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has broken his silence to condemn Lee Anderson’s attack on Sadiq Khan as not acceptable and “wrong”.

Mr Anderson, the MP for Ashfield and former deputy party chair, was suspended at the weekend after he refused to apologise for claiming “Islamists” had got “control” over London and that Mr Khan had “given our capital city away to his mates”.

Speaking on BBC Radio York, the prime minister denied that the party has “Islamophobic tendencies” and said: “I think it’s incumbent on all of us, especially those elected to parliament, not to inflame our debates in a way that’s harmful to others.”

Asked about Mr Anderson specifically, Mr Sunak said: “Lee’s comments weren’t acceptable, they were wrong. That’s why he’s had the whip suspended.”

He added: “Words matter, especially in the current environment where tensions are running high. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to choose them carefully.”

Politics latest: Tory MPs label Lee Anderson suspension the ‘final nail in the party’s coffin’

Mr Sunak’s statement to local radio was the first time he has directly addressed the comments made by Mr Anderson, who told GB News last week: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

His comments sparked condemnation from across the political divide, including from Tory peer Baroness Warsi who said she was “really disturbed by where the Conservative Party has gone” and that “anti-Muslim racism is being used as an electoral campaign tool”.

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‘Anti-muslim racism is being used as an electoral campaign tool.’

However, a cabinet minister this morning appeared to leave the door open to Mr Anderson regaining the Tory whip, which allows him to sit as a Conservative MP in the Commons.

Asked what Mr Anderson needed to say to be welcomed back, Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Kay Burley on Sky News that he should “reflect on what he said” and “retract those comments and apologise”.

“I’m not going to tell the chief whip how to do his job, that’s for him,” he said.

“He’s contributed a lot in the past. I’d like to see him be able to contribute to the Conservative Party in the future.”

“I’d like to see him be able to contribute to the Conservative Party in the future.”

While a number of senior Tories have criticised Mr Anderson for his comments, Mr Harper was the second cabinet minister to refuse to say whether the remarks were “racist”.

Yesterday Mr Dowden backed the decision to suspend the Ashfield MP but refused to say whether he was racist.

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‘It was wrong’

And this morning, Mr Harper also repeatedly declined to say whether Mr Anderson’s remarks were racist but said they were “untrue” and “wrong”.

“Well it was wrong, and I’m not going to get into arguing about the rights and wrongs of what he said.

“Wrong is a very strong word in my book.”

Mr Harper also rejected the assertion made by Baroness Warsi yesterday that there is a hierarchy of racism within the party and that anti-Muslim racism is being used as an electoral campaign tool.

“I don’t agree with that,” he said. “And the fact that we took such robust action so quickly against what Lee Anderson said, I think, rather shows exactly why she’s wrong.”

Mr Harper’s words come as WhatsApp messages leaked to Sky News reveal that some Tory MPs regard Mr Anderson’s suspension as a mistake.

The WhatsApp forum is called the “109 group” of Tory MPs elected in 2019.

Read more:
Lee Anderson row blunts Rishi Sunak’s moral authority on racism
MPs set to debate Gaza ceasefire again as SNP take up Speaker’s offer after Commons chaos

Julie Marson, the MP for Hertford and Stortford, shared a news story showing Nigel Farage calling on “cancelled” Mr Anderson to join the rivals Reform party and “destroy” the Tories.

Jill Mortimer, the Conservative MP for Hartlepool, shared messages from constituents saying they would not vote Tory again and that “Lee Anderson’s suspension is the final nail in the party’s coffin”.

On Sunday evening Mr Anderson tweeted a picture of a pint of beer from a London pub with the caption: “So I have just arrived in London and due to all the positive comments earlier I’ve decided to have another pint to get me ready for a long week.”

Keir Starmer accuses ‘weak’ Rishi Sunak of harbouring ‘extremists’ in his party | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer has accused the prime minister of harbouring extremists in his party after a senior Tory MP was suspended for “Islamophobic” comments.

The Labour leader said Rishi Sunak’s “weakness” allowed Lee Anderson “to act with impunity” and that he “needs to get a grip and take on the extremists in his party”.

Sir Keir said it was “right” that Mr Anderson lost the whip after what he called an “appalling racist and Islamophobic outburst”.

He added: “But what does it say about the prime minister’s judgement that he made Lee Anderson deputy chairman of his party?

“Whether it is Liz Truss staying silent on Tommy Robinson or Suella Braverman’s extreme rhetoric, Rishi Sunak’s weakness means Tory MPs can act with impunity.

“This isn’t just embarrassing for the Conservative party, it emboldens the worst forces in our politics.”

Prime Minister says Britain is 'not seeking a confrontation'

It came as Mr Sunak released his own statement, criticising those who have threatened and targeted MPs over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and saying British democracy must not “fall into polarised camps who hate each other”.

Mr Sunak said: “The events of recent weeks are but the latest in an emerging pattern which should not be tolerated.

“Legitimate protests hijacked by extremists to promote and glorify terrorism, elected representatives verbally threatened and physically, violently targeted and antisemitic tropes beamed onto our own parliament building.”

Referring to when the Commons Speaker broke convention in a Gaza ceasefire debate this week out of fears’ for MPs’ safety, Mr Sunak said: “And in parliament this week a very dangerous signal was sent that this sort of intimidation works. It is toxic for our society and our politics and is an affront to the liberties and values we hold dear here in Britain.”

His statement made no mention of Mr Anderson or his comments.

What Rishi Sunak didn’t say is more notable than what he did

The prime minister’s comments were notable because of what he chose to omit.

On a day when the party was rocked by allegations of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred – a day when it had to suspend one of its own MPs because of these very issues – Rishi Sunak chose to make some comments.

Instead of condemning the remarks or distancing the party from them, the prime minister chose not to make any reference to them at all, rather, he chose to speak more explicitly about antisemitism.

The prime minister said: “The explosion in prejudice and antisemitism since the Hamas attacks on the 7 October are as unacceptable as they are un-British. Simply put antisemitism is racism.”

We know that hate crime towards both Muslim and Jewish communities has been rising since 7 October.

However, some may question why, after a day like this, Mr Sunak chose to omit explicit reference to Muslim communities.

These comments, and the tone of the remarks, do not challenge the prevailing view held in some quarters that the Conservative party doesn’t take Islamophobia seriously.

The prime minister avoids using the word at all when discussing anti-Muslim hatred.

Of course, the Labour party, which over the years has faced accusations of antisemitism, had no such problem calling it out.

Sir Keir Starmer said: “It’s right that Lee Anderson has lost the whip after his appalling racist and Islamophobic outburst against Sadiq Khan.”

He went on to question Mr Sunak’s judgement saying he needed to get a grip of “extremists” in his own party.

The incident does expose how difficult the prime minister is finding it to exert authority over his fracturing right-wing coalition and create some semblance of a unified identity for his party.

He knows that he needs to placate the right of his party, which sometimes means turning a blind eye to some of its more outspoken characters, like Suella Braverman and Liz Truss.

However, there’s a line and it’s becoming more and more difficult for Mr Sunak to tread.

With this statement the prime minister was, once again, speaking to this right-wing faction (on a day when they lost a key figure in Lee Anderson) instead of the communities that may have been affected by his remarks.

On Wednesday, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he selected multiple amendments to the motion to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza in a bid to ensure all options were on the table for MPs to vote on – as well as protecting MPs’ safety.

Mr Sunak’s party suspended Mr Anderson, the former Tory deputy chairman, hours before he released the statement.

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Khan: Anderson’s comments ‘Islamophobic and racist’

Read more:
Lee Anderson responds after suspension
Labour lead grows in ‘sea wall’ constituencies
Sammy Wilson steps down as DUP chief whip

Lee Anderson during the launch of the Popular Conservatism movement.
Pic: PA
Lee Anderson. Pic: PA

Mr Anderson claimed on GB News earlier this week – without evidence – that “Islamists” had “got control” of Mr Khan, leading to an outcry from both sides of the political divide.

The Ashfield MP said he accepts the Tory party had “no option” but to suspend him.

“However, I will continue to support the government’s efforts to call out extremism in all its forms – be that antisemitism or Islamophobia,” he said.

Sunak paid half a million pounds in tax last year, according to his tax returns | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has published his personal tax return, showing he paid more than half a million pounds in UK tax last year.

The summary of the prime minister’s tax affairs was slipped out on Friday afternoon as parliament was in recess.

The document shows he paid a tax bill of £508,308 in the financial year 2022-23 – around £75,000 more than what he paid in the previous year.

Mr Sunak made nearly £1.8 million through capital gains – up from £1.6 million in 2021/22 – as well as £293,407 in other interest and dividends.

Rishi Sunak's tax return. Source: screenshot of UK government document
Rishi Sunak’s tax return. Source: screenshot of UK government document

All of the investment income and capital gains came from a US-based investment fund listed as a blind trust, according to the summary.

He also earned £139,477 from his roles as an MP and prime minister.

Rather than a full tax return, Number 10 published “a summary” of Mr Sunak’s UK taxable income, capital gains and tax paid over the last tax year as reported to HM Revenue & Customs, prepared by accountancy service Evelyn Partners.

A summary of his tax affairs for the year 2021/22 was also published last March, showing the prime minister paid £432,493 in taxes that year.

Mr Sunak first said he would publish his tax returns during his unsuccessful campaign to be Tory leader against Liz Truss in the summer of 2022.

The prime minister is thought to be one of the richest MPs in parliament and his personal wealth has long been used by opponents to attack him as being “out of touch”.

Pressure started piling on Mr Sunak while he was chancellor, after it emerged his wife Akshata Murty, who is the daughter of an Indian billionaire, had non-dom status – meaning she did not have to pay UK tax on her international income.

The calls for the prime minister to release his tax details then grew louder following the controversy around Nadhim Zahawi, who was sacked as Tory Party chairman in January 2023 after he failed to disclose millions of pounds in tax.

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Sunak declines to apologise for transgender jibe despite calls from Brianna Ghey’s family | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has declined to apologise for his joke about transgender people, despite Brianna Ghey’s father calling for him to say sorry.

The prime minister was criticised for aiming the political dig about transgender people at Sir Keir Starmer, saying the Labour leader had broken promises on “defining a woman” while Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, was in parliament.

Speaking to Sky News yesterday, Brianna’s father Peter Spooner called Mr Sunak’s remarks “degrading” and “absolutely dehumanising” and said the prime minister should apologise.

Asked whether he would do so today, Mr Sunak said: “If you look at what I said, I was very clear, talking about Keir Starmer’s proven track record of U-turns on major policies because he doesn’t have a plan.

“A point only proven by today’s reports that the Labour Party and Keir Starmer are apparently planning to reverse on their signature economic green spending policy.

“That just demonstrates the point I was making. He’s someone who has just consistently changed his mind on a whole range of major things.

“I think that is an absolutely legitimate thing to point out and it demonstrates that he doesn’t have a plan for the country.”

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PM’s ‘shame’ over transgender comment

He added: “Like everyone, I was completely shocked by Brianna’s case. To have your child taken from you in such awful circumstances is almost impossible to come to terms with, and for Brianna’s mum to talk with such empathy and compassion about that, I thought, was inspiring and it showed the very best of humanity.

“I’ve nothing but the most heartfelt sympathy for her entire family and friends.

“But to use that tragedy to detract from the very separate and clear point I was making about Keir Starmer’s proven track record of multiple U-turns on major policies, because he doesn’t have a plan, I think is both sad and wrong, and it demonstrates the worst of politics.”

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Blow for Rishi Sunak as Rwanda plan suffers first defeat in House of Lords | Politics News

The House of Lords has defied Rishi Sunak to vote against the ratification of the UK’s new treaty with Rwanda – in what could prove a damaging development for the Safety of Rwanda Bill.

The upper house was voting following a report last week that recommended the treaty not be ratified.

It comes after Rishi Sunak challenged peers not to “frustrate the will of the people”.

Politics latest: ‘Warning signs’ missed over measles outbreak

Labour’s Lord Peter Goldsmith, who proposed the debate, said the report had been supported unanimously by the cross-party International Agreements Committee – including Boris Johnson’s ally Lord Eddy Lister.

The House of Lords can only advise that the signing of a treaty is delayed – however, if the Commons votes the same way it can delay the signing of the treaty.

The wording of the motion said: “This House resolves, in accordance with section 20 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, that His Majesty’s Government should not ratify the UK-Rwanda Agreement on an Asylum Partnership until the protections it provides have been fully implemented.”

It is upon this treaty – which contains the agreements that make Rwanda “safe” – that the Safety of Rwanda Bill was introduced.

The bill will be debated in the Lords from next week.

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Sunak warns Lords over Rwanda

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Whatever happens in Rwanda vote, Rishi Sunak is in deep trouble | Politics News

Whatever happens in the vote over emergency legislation tomorrow, Rishi Sunak is in deep trouble.

In making flights to Rwanda this totemic policy of his premiership, he has stoked a civil war in this party which threatens to blow up his benches and his leadership, as Brexit did for Theresa May.

Because just as with Brexit, the left and right of the party is split, unable to find common ground.

In essence, moderates are crystal clear that Sunak shouldn’t do anything that undermines the rule of law, while the right of the party wants the prime minister to harden up the bill – with some even believing the government should pull out of international obligations such as the European Convention of Human Rights.

Read more:
What is the revamped Rwanda asylum plan?

On Monday night, Sunak did win the backing of the One Nation moderates, who said they’d vote for the emergency legislation tomorrow, but they also made it very clear their support is conditional.

“We have taken the decision that the most important thing at this stage is to support the bill despite our real concerns,” Damian Green, chair of the group, said.

But, he also said: “We strongly urge the government to stand firm against any attempt to amend the bill in a way that would make it unacceptable to those who believe that support for the rule of law is a basic Conservative principle.”

Shortly after that statement went out, representatives on the right of the Conservative Party sent out this: “More than 40 colleagues met tonight to discuss the bill.

Every member of that discussion said the bill needs major surgery or replacement.

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‘No plans’ to pull Rwanda bill

While Sunak says he will listen to concerns, allies have made it clear that he will not support a significant rewrite of the legislation.

He is a prime minister who wants to stay within the bounds of international law.

Over the next 24 hours, he will urge the right-wing rebels to stick with him. But what is so obviously clear is that winning tomorrow is only the beginning, not the end of the war.

Because if the right of the party back him now, it will be to amend the legislation further down the line.

These MPs will probably hope the government will support them at a later stage. And they would still retain the nuclear option of voting against the bill at the third reading. That doesn’t bear thinking about for the prime minister.

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For now, Sunak is pulling out all the stops to win the vote tomorrow. His argument will be that this emergency legislation is all about the fundamental principle of tackling illegal immigration and that the party must be seen to be voting it through.

But he knows, too, that his is a showdown delayed not resolved. A party in civil war and a prime minister unable to stop it.

Rishi Sunak facing crunch week on flagship Rwanda legislation | Politics News

Rishi Sunak is waiting to see the size of revolt over his immigration plans from both wings of his party as he enters a crunch week for his premiership. 

Two major meetings on Monday – one with One Nation MPs and one with the Tory right – will determine the size of the rebellion on Tuesday over his emergency legislation, which he claims will get flights to Rwanda off the ground.

It takes 29 MPs to vote against, or 57 MP to abstain, to defeat Sunak’s flagship legislation – with no clarity whether he could survive such a defeat in practice.

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The Tory right will meet at midday on Monday, with five different groups represented and addressed by Bill Cash, while the centrist Tory MPs will gather at 6pm and could be addressed by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk.

One Nation Conservative MPs, who represent the centre of the party, insist to the Politics At Jack and Sam’s podcast that some of their group will vote against, while some on the right do not see a way of toughening the bill in a way that will become law.

Robert Jenrick, the newly hardline former immigration minister, has upped pressure on the prime minister by declaring he will not support the bill, stiffening the resistance amongst some of those on the right.

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Crunch week for Sunak’s premiership

Read more:
PM is facing a crisis sooner or later – analysis
What is the revamped Rwanda asylum plan and what hurdles does it face?

Mr Cash, who heads the “star chamber”, has already said the bill does not deliver what is needed and is offering to negotiate further with government.

Meanwhile, newer MPs in the New Conservatives, Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates, have signalled their unhappiness with the proposal for failing to go far enough.

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Can the new Rwanda policy work?

Unlike the Brexit era, there is no organised whipping operation among opponents meaning there is no way for Downing Street to know what will happen on Tuesday.

They still expect to win the first vote on the bill, but all sides are shaping up for a big battle when the legislation resurfaces early in the new year.

For full analysis, listen to Politics at Jack and Sam’s.

Sunak to find ‘middle ground’ in emergency Rwanda legislation as Tory splits emerge into public view | Politics News

Rishi Sunak will aim for a middle ground in the emergency legislation to get the Rwanda scheme off the ground as he remains under severe pressure to stop small boat crossings.

A senior government source has told Sky News that the prime minister is not planning to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as he seeks to prevent a split in his party.

It comes as more centrist Tory MPs are warning Mr Sunak publicly not to abandon international refugee and human rights treaties, while those on the right of the party want him to take a more hard-line approach.

Politics news – latest: Tory splits on migration spill into public view

The prime minister is trying to rescue the plan to deport migrants who arrive in the UK by irregular means to Rwanda and make it legally watertight following the Supreme Court’s ruling against the scheme.

In the wake of the judgement on 15 November, the government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a treaty with Rwanda within days, along with emergency legislation in parliament.

The treaty was signed on Tuesday, and the government is expected to publish the emergency legislation to accompany it “soon”.

More on European Court Of Human Rights

Read more: Rishi Sunak stuck between rock and hard place as Tories battle over migration policy

The legislation will be scrutinised on all sides of the debate, with members of the right-wing European Research Group (ERG) revealing to Sky News earlier that the group’s so-called “star chamber” of lawyers will examine it before MPs vote on it.

ERG chairman Mark Francois promised a conclusion within a matter of days, and added: “They will then examine the bill in detail to look at the question of whether it fully respects parliamentary sovereignty and whether it contains unambiguous wording that would facilitate planes taking off to Rwanda.”

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UK and Rwanda sign asylum treaty

He also warned that the prime minister would be “unwise” to “bounce” MPs into backing the legislation before it has been properly scrutinised.

The opposite wing of the party has warned that any attempt to override the ECHR or Refugee Convention would be a “red line”.

Read more:
How safe is the UK’s plan for asylum seekers?
Rwanda did not receive funding to sign new asylum treaty

Former cabinet minister Damian Green said earlier today: “What I am most encouraged by is what the home secretary said, which is the purpose of the treaty he signed is to directly address the problems the Supreme Court had with the system.”

He added that undermining international commitments would be the “wrong thing for this country to do, bad for our international reputation”, and it would also make it “pretty much impossible” for any bill to pass the House of Lords.

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Will Rwanda asylum treaty work?

Stephen Hammond, a member of the One Nation grouping, said: “The prime minister has a tricky task on his hands to balance the economy, labour market, and stopping the boats.

“The package by the home secretary shows this is possible and, importantly, can be achieved by not leaving the ECHR, which would be a mistake and doesn’t have public support.

“Furthermore, moderates and mainstream Conservative MPs may struggle to support a so-called full-fat deal.”

Rishi Sunak suggests more tax cuts are on the way – but refuses to commit to triple lock manifesto pledge | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has suggested more tax cuts are on the way because the economy has “turned a corner”.

The prime minister told reporters that while he would not comment on specifics, trimming taxes was “the direction of travel from this government”.

But it came as he refused to say if the pensions triple lock would be in the next Conservative Party manifesto – despite Downing Street insisting in September that it was “committed” to the policy.

Mr Sunak’s comments echo similar remarks by his ministers in recent weeks.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also said last month that the economy had “turned a corner” just before he unveiled a cut to National Insurance in the Autumn Statement.

However, four million people could also end up paying higher taxes if their wages rise after the government decided to continue the freeze on tax thresholds.

Reports suggest the Conservatives are considering additional cuts in 2024 as the party tries to woo voters and reduce Labour’s 20-point lead in opinion polls ahead of the next general election, which must take place by January 28 2025.

Cuts to stamp duty and inheritance tax are among the options reportedly being looked at by ministers.

When asked about the two policies, Mr Sunak said: “I would never comment on specific taxes. But what I will just say, though, is we have turned a corner.

“We have got inflation down, as I said we would, we have grown the economy and we are now focused on controlling spending and controlling welfare so we can cut taxes. So when we can do more, we will.”

He added: “We want to grow the economy, we want to reward people’s hard work and aspirations and cut their taxes responsibly. That is the direction of travel from this government.

“If you want controlled public spending, controlled welfare and your taxes cut, then vote Conservative.”

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Mr Sunak was unable to make similar promises about the triple lock, which ensures the state pension must rise every April by whichever is highest out of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%.

The policy has come under fire in recent months by critics who claim it has become too expensive and gives the government less financial “headroom” to deal with economic shocks.

Some senior Tories have called for it to be scrapped and Labour has refused to guarantee the triple lock will remain in place if it wins the next election.

While the government continued with the policy in its recent Autumn Statement, ensuring the state pension will rise by 8.5% in April 2024 to £221.20 a week, Mr Sunak refused to be drawn when asked directly if it would be in the next Tory manifesto.

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Analysis: Autumn Statement 2023

Speaking to journalists as he flew between the UK and Dubai for the COP28 summit, he replied: “[I’m] definitely not going to start writing the manifesto on the plane, as fun as that would be.”

Mr Sunak acknowledged there had been “some scepticism” about if policy was going to form part of the Autumn Statement, but said its inclusion had been “a signal of our commitment to look after our pensioners who have put a lot into our country”.