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Sophy Ridge Outsmarts Jonathan Gullis As Tory Botches Rwanda Scheme Blame Game

Sophy Ridge vs Jonathan Gullis on Sky News.
Sophy Ridge vs Jonathan Gullis on Sky News.Sky News

New Tory deputy chairman Jonathan Gullis has faced embarrassment after criticising peers and the Labour Party for voting against the flagship Rwanda deportation scheme – when he hasn’t been fully behind it himself. 

Gullis abstained from voting on the Safety of Rwanda Bill at its second reading in December at a time when there was deep Conservative dissatisfaction with the legislation not going far enough.

The position came back to haunt the MP for Stoke-on-Trent when he was interviewed by Sophy Ridge on Sky News on Wednesday, a day after being handed the senior party role.

Gullis said: “Those pesky peers in the House of Lords, predominantly Labour, and Labour MPs and Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons are continuing to block any attempts that we make in order to get this Rwanda policy off the ground ...”

Ridge quickly intervened: “But you abstained on the Rwanda vote, didn’t you?”

Knowing full well he did abstain, Gullis said that he “wanted to see the bill pass, so I didn’t block or deter it at any point”, adding: “I suggested amendments, Sophy.”

When Ridge clarified he “didn’t vote for it” and that he was just as “pesky” as those he was criticising, Gullis replied: “I haven’t voted like Labour have over 90 times to block the Rwanda scheme from being able to take place.”

You can watch the full exchange below.

The bill, which aims to overcome the Supreme Court’s block on the Rwanda deportation flights, is stuck in a game of parliamentary “ping-pong” as the House of Lords votes against the flagship legislation, only for MPs in the Commons to reverse those changes and send it back again.

It has undermined Rishi Sunak’s hopes of getting the deportation flights off the ground in the spring.

Britain and Rwanda signed a deal almost two years ago that would see migrants who cross the English Channel in small boats sent to the East African country, where they would remain permanently. So far, no migrant has been sent to Rwanda under the agreement.

The plan is key to Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” bringing unauthorised migrants to the UK. He argues that deporting asylum seekers will deter people from making risky journeys and break the business model of people-smuggling gangs. Just under 30,000 people arrived in Britain in small boats in 2023.

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