UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak won a pivotal vote on his Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill in Parliament on Tuesday as he tries to push through his plan to send asylum seekers who enter the UK illegally to Rwanda. The bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons by 313 votes to 269.The controversial bill seeks to declare Rwanda a safe country and has come under scrutiny for disapplying sections of the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998 as well as international law. The bill was introduced in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in November, which declared that the government’s deportation plan was unlawful and that Rwanda was not a safe country. The Rwandan government has expressed concerns and threatened to pull out of the recent treaty unless the UK government complies with international legal mechanisms.The prime minister spent the day trying to shore up enough votes and prevent a party rebellion to get the bill through its second reading. He even went so far as to fly Graham Stuart, the minister leading the COP28 Climate Summit, back to London to vote. The victory narrowly spared Sunak’s bill from becoming the first to be defeated at this stage since 1986.The night began with the opposition Labour Party introducing an amendment to prevent the bill from having a second reading. The proposed amendment said that the bill failed to address a range of issues including people smuggling, small boat crossings and significant costs to the UK taxpayer. It went on to state that the bill jeopardises the UK’s compliance with international law. The amendment was rejected by 269 ayes to 337 noes.The main vote witnessed 38 abstentions, which could signify a battle for the prime minister as he tries to advance the bill further. The next stage for the bill is the committee stage, where MPs will scrutinise the content in more detail. This is expected to happen in the New Year, and if it passes the committee stage, it will move on to the report stage, followed by a third reading in the House of Commons. If it passes all stages, it will then go to the House of Lords, and if both houses agree, the bill will receive Royal Assent and become law.

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