Robert Jenrick unleashed fresh Tory chaos last night as he resigned as minister for immigration.
It came just an hour after a plea by Rishi Sunak for the party to ‘unite or die’ over his Rwanda policy.
The Prime Minister had urged factions to pull together to fight Labour instead of themselves after publishing emergency legislation he hopes will finally get the deportation flights off the ground.
Though Mr Sunak said his new Bill would ensure ‘our plan cannot be stopped’, following defeat in the Supreme Court, he faced immediate criticism from the Right of the party, who felt it did not go far enough.
The PM issued an ultimatum to his party to ‘come together as a team’ during a tub-thumping appearance before Tory MPs at the 1922 Committee, where he described the legislation as the ‘toughest piece of anti-illegal immigration law that we’ve ever put to the House’.
Mr Sunak said it needed to be passed with a strong majority to ‘throw down the gauntlet to the Lords’, where it could face tough opposition.
But he faced immediate criticism for shunning the most hardline option and not providing powers to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights.
In a scathing resignation letter, Mr Jenrick described the legislation as ‘a triumph of hope over experience’. But a senior Tory source hit back, labelling Mr Jenrick’s desertion ‘a disgrace’. The source said: ‘The PM is trying to solve a serious problem – this is just petulant. It is just treacherous. They are trying to destroy the party, throwing their toys out of the pram to seek attention.
‘If you are genuinely serious about reducing immigration into this country – legal and illegal – you don’t quit. The sure-fire way to get the opposite is if Keir Starmer becomes prime minister.’