Robert Jenrick has resigned as immigration secretary, saying the government’s emergency legislation in Rwanda is “not enough”.
He said “stronger protections” were needed to end “the spiral of legal challenges that threatens to cripple the scheme”.
The government said the bill, which was unveiled earlier, makes it clear in UK law that Rwanda is a safe country for asylum seekers.
But it falls short of what some on the conservative right have demanded.
In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Jenrick said: “In our discussions about the proposed emergency law, I moved towards my position, and I am grateful for that.”
“However, I am unable to pass the currently proposed legislation in the House of Commons because I do not believe it gives us the best possible chance of success.”
He added that the bill was a “victory of hope over experience.”
Plans to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda are aimed at deterring people from crossing the English Channel in small boats.
But the scheme has been repeatedly delayed by legal challenges and no asylum seekers have been sent to Rwanda from the UK so far.
Jenrick said the emergency law was the “last chance” to demonstrate that the government would do “whatever it takes” to stop small boat crossings.
“But in its current formulation, it does not go far enough,” he added.
He added: “I refuse to be another politician who makes promises about immigration to the British people but does not deliver on them.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “It is a sign of the complete disarray in the Conservative Party and the complete collapse of Rishi Sunak’s leadership that even as he sits in the House of Commons announcing his new plan for Rwanda, his immigration is still going ahead.” The minister resigns because he does not think it will work.”
Reports about Mr Jenrick’s resignation began to spread after the Government published the draft law.
He had previously suggested that the government might withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (EHCR).
Instead, the bill allows ministers to ignore parts of UK human rights law.
The legislation is intended to address concerns of the Supreme Court, which ruled last month that plans to send some asylum seekers to the East African country were unlawful.
The bill, which must be voted on by Parliament, orders the courts to ignore key sections of the Human Rights Act in an attempt to circumvent the current Supreme Court ruling.
It also orders the courts to ignore other British laws or international rules – such as the International Refugee Convention – that stand in the way of deportation to Rwanda.
However, it does not go as far as some Tory MPs wanted.
“Internet practitioner. Social media maven. Certified zombieaholic. Lifelong communicator.”