Questions have been raised over whether Attorney General Victoria Prentis is comfortable with the UK’s forthcoming Rwanda bill.

The Banbury MP has been tasked with drawing up a watertight Rwanda bill, which is due to be presented to MPs by the end of this week.

Following last month’s supreme court ruling that the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful, ministers are hopeful this new bill will enforce a new treaty with the Rwandan government.

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In today’s (December 7) Attorney General’s Questions, it was asked of the Banbury MP: “How comfortable is she with the safety of the Rwanda bill which seeks to oust the jurisdiction of our highest courts, denies our country’s treaty obligations, and treats our constitution and the rule of law with contempt?”

The questioner then goes on to say that Mrs Prentis’ name does not appear on the bill.

In response, Mrs Prentis said: “I take very seriously my obligations to encourage government to act in a lawful manner and to make sure government is acting in a lawful manner both on the international and the domestic front.”

The Guardian reported that the attorney general’s office approached Matrix Chambers - whose lawyers helped to put down the Rwanda scheme at the supreme court - to advise on how to move forward with the plans.

This move has allegedly led to speculation that Mrs Prentis, understood to be in favour of the UK maintaining its position in the European convention on human rights (ECHR), is compiling evidence to argue against leaving the convention.

According to The Guardian, others think the MP is simply trying to make the bill as watertight as possible by encouraging the involvement of specialist human rights lawyers before the bill is published.

It is understood that the move is unusual because the attorney genera’s office typically relies on advice from in-house lawyers from parliament.

The move comes during heated debates in government about the extent to which the new legislation should go to bypass future legal challenges.

Two options are being considered by the government. The first would mean only the UK’s Human Rights Act would not apply in asylum claims, and the second would allow ministers to ignore the ECHR and other international treaties associated with asylum.

The Guardian reported that Mrs Prentis has been overseeing the legislation for the new bill, while – now resigned – immigration minister Robert Jenrick has taken a back seat.

It is understood that the attorney general is less hardline than some of her conservative colleagues and is reluctant to withdraw the UK from international treaties.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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