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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is entering a pivotal 48-hour period that could shape the destiny of both his contentious Rwanda asylum policy and his political career, as per senior Conservative MPs.

Reports from Express indicate that the Prime Minister’s flagship immigration legislation, the Rwanda Removals Bill, is on the brink of a significant rebellion from Tory backbenchers when it returns to the House of Commons this week.

Over 60 Conservative MPs are reportedly backing amendments that would enhance the bill by placing further restrictions on the rights of asylum seekers. However, Sunak risks alienating more moderate Tories if he embraces these amendments, with warnings that such actions could undermine the UK’s commitment to international law.

In a manifestation of discontent among Tory backbenchers, two Conservative deputy chairmen, Lee Anderson, and Brendan Clarke-Smith, have pledged to join the rebellion by supporting amendments to the Rwanda bill. This move deals a notable blow to Sunak’s authority, indicating that opposition to the current legislation extends to higher ranks within the Conservative party.

Anderson and Clarke-Smith join the ranks of more than 60 backbenchers aiming to limit the ability of asylum seekers to challenge deportation to Rwanda through legal means. This rebellion coincides with the UN Refugee Agency’s legal assessment, concluding that the revised Rwanda policy falls short of required standards in human rights and refugee protection, warning that it could undermine fundamental principles of international law.

Sunak now faces a dilemma between appeasing rebels on his right flank and adhering to his current policy despite substantial opposition. If he opts for a tougher stance, he risks losing support from more moderate ‘One Nation’ Conservatives. Conversely, ignoring rebels’ demands might lead to dozens of Tories abstaining or voting against the legislation, potentially triggering a leadership crisis for the relatively new Prime Minister.

With two days of debate and votes starting Tuesday, Sunak’s Rwanda bill faces a high-stakes parliamentary showdown. Successfully averting a major rebellion could stabilize his leadership and maintain hopes for the Rwanda policy. However, a loss in the Commons vote could plunge his premiership into crisis, just over 100 days since he assumed office.

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