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What could come next after Rwanda vote including election and leadership bid

Rishi Sunak faces one of the most challenging weeks of his premiership this week as he seeks to steer his Rwanda bill through an increasingly mutinous House of Commons.

The proposed legislation to send asylum seekers to Rwanda will have its second reading in the Chamber on Tuesday, with the Prime Minister battling to keep various Tory factions united over the plans.

Here i looks at the many different scenarios that could take place as the bill is put in front of MPs.

Tories vote it down

The several different right-wing caucuses, dubbed the “five families” in reference to the New York mafia, are mulling over whether to try to amend the legislation or to vote it down entirely. Should they decide to vote down the bill then it would be viewed as an act of war on their leader. The weekend was awash with briefings against Mr Sunak and the desire among some to see the return of Boris Johnson. However, there are also unhappy Tories within the more moderate One Nation caucus, who dislike the bill due to its treatment of human rights laws.

If MPs choose to oppose the bill then it would dramatically undermine the Prime Minister and leave his flagship small boats plan in tatters. Just 29 rebels are needed to defeat the bill. Such a move would drastically increase the odds of Mr Sunak facing a challenge to his leadership, or Downing Street reaching for the nuclear option and calling a snap election. It is likely, however, that the prospects of either of these outcomes happening will ward off any outright rebellion.

Likelihood rating: 1/5

Tories abstain but it is defeated

Another, perhaps more likely, outcome is that the bill is defeated by accident. As each of the main opposition parties are against the legislation, it means that it would take just 56 Tories to abstain on the bill for it to be struck out. MPs meeting today will discuss whether they will vote against the bill, support it or abstain. But given many will feel they cannot support the legislation out of principle, but do not want to explicitly rebel, it could mean that the magic number of 56 abstentions is reached without collusion. However, the resulting effect would be just the same on Mr Sunak’s leadership. The Prime Minister would look like a lame duck, unable to pass legislation through the Commons and could then see a challenge made against him, or could decide to force an election to take the issue to the country.

Likelihood rating: 2/5

Tories support bill to amend

Despite the sabre-rattling from the various Tory groups, a more likely scenario is MPs who were minded to abstain end up holding their noses and voting it through, while those planning on voting against decide to sit on their hands instead. This will mean the legislation is voted through at the second reading, but sets up more battles for the weeks ahead. Crucially, this will give Mr Sunak more time to convince his own MPs that the legislation is the furthest the Government can go in ignoring human rights laws and deporting asylum seekers. Downing Street has signalled that it will listen to MPs’ on their concerns and could be open to amending the bill as long as it does not try to alter it substantively. While it will undoubtedly just delay some crunch votes, it offers No 10 and feverish Tory MPs the breathing space needed to consider the bill in the round.

Likelihood rating: 4/5

House of Lords amends

If Mr Sunak can successfully navigate his bill through the Commons, he then faces a perhaps even greater challenge in the Lords where peers are far more independently minded. The make-up of the Lords means the Tories do not have the power needed to force through the bill, but similarly the Upper Chamber is mindful that it must not stand in the way of the elected chamber. Yet, such is the contentiousness of the Rwanda bill, it is not inconceivable – although still unlikely – that the Lords could choose to vote the bill down, thereby forcing Mr Sunak back to the drawing board.

A more likely outcome will be that the Lords spend several weeks, if not months, deliberating over the legislation and heavily amending it. This will set up further battles in the future when the bill returns to the Commons at the ping pong stage. This will undoubtedly heap pressure on Mr Sunak as his spring deadline for getting planes in the air to Rwanda will loom ever closer.

Likelihood rating: 3/5

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