Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson today urged Rishi Sunak to ‘ignore’ the Supreme Court’s block on the Rwanda migrant deal and ‘just put the planes in the air now’.
The Ashfield MP put pressure on the Prime Minister to send asylum seekers to east Africa ‘the same day’ they arrive in Britain despite judges ruling the policy to be unlawful.
Mr Anderson led Tory Right-wing fury at the judgment by the UK’s top court after it unanimously rejected a Government appeal.
He described the decision by five justices as a ‘dark day for the British people’ and said ministers should ‘just put the planes in the air now and send them to Rwanda’.
The backlash against the Supreme Court saw similar demands from other Conservative MPs for Mr Sunak to take ‘very tough’ action.
Some backbenchers even suggested the PM’s future in Downing Street could be in jeopardy if he fails to take a hardline stance on illegal migration after the judgment.
One claimed seven letters of no confidence in Mr Sunak’s leadership had now been submitted, in a week when the PM carried out a divisive reshuffle of his Cabinet.
Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson urged Rishi Sunak to ‘ignore’ the Supreme Court’s block on the Rwanda migrant deal and ‘just put the planes in the air now’
The Ashfield MP put pressure on the Prime Minister to send asylum seekers to Africa ‘the same day’ they arrive in Britain despite judges ruling the policy to be unlawful
A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat traveling from the coast of France and heading in the direction of Dover, Kent
In the wake of Mr Anderson’s comments, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk felt compelled to stress the Government’s commitment to abide by court rulings
Lee Anderson’s history of controversies
Lee Anderson has been no stranger to controversy since entering the House of Commons in 2019.
Here are some of the rows the Ashfield MP has been caught up in…
Taking the knee
Ahead of the 2020 European Championships, Mr Anderson vowed to boycott England games during the football tournament due to the side’s decision to ‘take the knee’ before matches.
He said, by performing the anti-racism gesture which has become linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, the players were supporting a ‘political movement’ and risked alienating ‘traditional supporters’.
Mr Anderson watered down his boycott of England games when Gareth Southgate’s side reached the final.
He revealed he would allow himself to keep tabs on the score via his phone.
Mr Anderson sparked fury last year after suggesting Britons are only using food banks because they ‘can’t budget’ and ‘can’t cook a meal from scratch’.
He also claimed there was not a ‘massive use for food banks’ in Britain.
Following criticism of his remarks, Mr Anderson offered ‘proof’ that meals can be cooked for 30p each. This saw him dubbed ’30p Lee’.
Support for the death penalty
Shortly after he was appointed Tory deputy chairman by Rishi Sunak this year, Mr Anderson faced a storm of criticism over his support for the return of the death penalty.
‘Nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed,’ Mr Anderson told the Spectator magazine.
‘You know that, don’t you? 100% success rate.’
Downing Street was forced to clarify that Mr Anderson does not speak for the Government in his party role.
Row with Game of Throne star’s dad
In April, Mr Anderson told the father of Game of Throne star Rose Leslie to ‘come outside’ in a bust-up in Parliament.
He was claimed to have been ‘aggressive’ towards Sebastian Leslie, whose daughter played Ygritte in the hit TV series, during a row in a House of Commons dining room.
The altercation was said to have been prompted by the explusion of North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen from the Conservative Party.
But Mr Anderson said it had been Mr Bridgen who was ‘rude and aggressive’ during the altercation.
MPs’ second jobs
In March, Mr Anderson was revealed to be earning £100,000 a year from his TV role with GB News – less than 18 months after he had blasted MPs who need ‘an extra £100,000 a year’ on top of their parliamentary salary.
In the wake of the Owen Paterson lobbying row, Mr Anderson had said: ‘If you need an extra £100,000 a year on top then you should really be looking for another job.’
He later signed up to GB News where he devotes eight hours a week to his role as a presenter and contributor.
The Commons sleaze watchdog recently launched a probe into Mr Anderson’s filming of a promo video for his weekly show from Parliament’s roof.
MPs are subject to strict rules over the taxpayer-funded services provided to them by the Commons in support of their parliamentary activities.
Mr Anderson came under fire last October when he questioned whether female representation would ‘increase or decrease’ if Eddie Izzard was elected as an MP.
He claimed he ‘would not follow him into the toilets’ if Izzard, who identifies as a woman with she/her pronouns, came to Parliament.
At the time, Izzard was attempting to become Labour’s candidate in the Sheffield Central constituency.
Mr Anderson was accused of making ‘transphobic’ comments.
‘F*** off back to France’
In August, Mr Anderson told asylum seekers refusing to board the Bibby Stockholm barge they should ‘f*** off back to France’.
He delivered his blast after 20 people declined to get on the vessel in Portland Port, Dorset.
Lawyers claimed some had a ‘severe fear of water’ after traumatic experiences.
‘If they don’t like barges then they should f*** off back to France,’ an irate Mr Anderson said.
Despite outrage at the comments, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk supported Mr Anderson’s ‘salty’ indignation as ‘well placed’.
Downing Street also backed Mr Anderson amid a furious row.
The Supreme Court this morning ruled there would be a risk of Rwanda returning genuine asylum seekers to face ‘ill treatment’ in the country they had fled.
Judges agreed with the Court of Appeal decision earlier this year that there are ‘substantial’ grounds to believe there is a ‘real risk’ of refugees being sent back to their home countries.
The ruling is a massive blow to Mr Sunak’s hopes of meeting his pledge to ‘stop the boats’ amid the Channel migrant crisis.
It also put the PM under further pressure from the Tory Right in the wake of his sacking of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary.
In response to the Supreme Court ruling, Mr Anderson said: ‘I think the British people have been very patient, I’ve been very patient, and now they’re demanding action.
‘And this has sort of forced our hand a little bit now. My take is we should just put the planes in the air now and send them to Rwanda and show strength.
‘It’s time for the Government to show real leadership and send them back, same day.’
He added: ‘I think we should ignore the laws and send them straight back the same day.’
Downing Street declined to slap down Mr Anderson for his suggestion that the Government act in defiance of the law.
Mr Sunak’s press secretary said: ‘I think we appreciate that our MPs have strong views on this because, frankly, the country cares about this.’
But Home Secretary James Cleverly, asked in the House of Commons if he would disassociate himself from Mr Anderson’s comments, said: ‘This country prides itself on being a law-abiding country.
‘To hear the Government’s position on things, listen to the statements from Government ministers.’
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk also felt compelled to stress the Government’s commitment to abide by court rulings.
He posted on Twitter: ‘Respecting the rule of law means respecting the impartial judgments of our independent courts.
‘Judges apply the law without fear or favour – a longstanding principle of our democratic constitution.
‘This Government is absolutely committed to stopping the boats, and we will continue to work to deliver on this promise for the British people.’
The New Conservatives, a group of MPs on the Tory Right, met in Westminster in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling and put forward a series of options for Mr Sunak to pursue.
This included the introduction of legislation to ‘immediately’ override the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in dealing with Channel migrant boats.
Speaking after a meeting of the group with other Tories who share the same view, New Conservatives co-chair Danny Kruger said the Supreme Court judgment felt ‘absolutely existential’ for the party.
Tory MPs were also said to have discussed the possibility of ‘pushback’ tactics to physically push small boats back into French waters in the Channel.
Asked whether she had confidence in Mr Sunak, fellow New Conservatives co-chair Miriam Cates said: ‘Let’s see what happens.’
‘He has said he will do whatever it takes to stop the boats. The next few days will show whether we’ve got the legislative power and the political will to do that.’
She added: ‘We will support him to do whatever it takes.’
Former Cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke told Sky News there was an ‘onus’ on Mr Sunak to ‘respond quickly and decisively’ to the Supreme Court ruling.
On Mr Sunak’s future as PM, he also warned that immigration ‘is a confidence issue in his judgment and leadership of the Conservative Party’.
Former education minister Dame Andrea Jenkyns said, as of last night, six other Tory MPs had pledged to join her in sending letters of no confidence in the PM.
‘I spoke to several colleagues and I know six who have said to me that they’re putting letters in today, so that’s seven we now know about,’ she told GB News.
Tory ex-minister Jonathan Gullis played down the threat to Mr Sunak’s position in No10.
But he warned the PM would have to take ‘very tough and uncomfortable decisions’.
He told the BBC’s Politics Live programme: ‘The Prime Minister I think should remain the Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative Party to the next election.
‘But the Prime Minister did also say he was going to do everything he needed to do to stop the boats.
‘That means making very tough and uncomfortable decisions.’
Mr Gullis added: ‘In 2016, the largest ever electoral mandate in the history of this country voted for us to take back control of our laws and our borders.
‘We therefore have to deliver.’
The Supreme Court ruling came just a day after Mrs Braverman sent a blistering letter to Mr Sunak in which she poured scorn over the PM’s record in No10.
She accused the ‘unelected’ PM of ‘betrayal’ over a series of broken pledges on migration, the Rwanda deal, Brexit and gender protections.
Mrs Braverman claimed Mr Sunak had failed to prepare a ‘credible Plan B’ should the Government lose the Supreme Court case on the Rwanda plan.
She accused the PM of ignoring her ‘multiple’ pleas to draft alternative measures.