(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Rishi Sunak proposed waiving some elements of international human rights law in the UK as he sought to push his controversial plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda through Parliament. 

Under a bill published on Wednesday, the Conservative government would be able to advance its deportation policy regardless of objections that it might breach the UK Human Rights Act and court decisions interpreting the European Convention on Human Rights. It stopped short of “disapplying” the ECHR itself, as demanded by some right-wing Tories.

The bill is part of a two-pronged approach by Sunak to implement a policy to deport migrants to Rwanda. Since being advanced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration in 2022, it’s repeatedly held up by European and UK courts, culminating in its rejection last month as “unlawful” by the Supreme Court.

The first part of the plan was completed Tuesday, when Home Secretary James Cleverly signed a treaty with Rwanda providing guarantees deportees wouldn’t be returned to their home countries.

With the Tories trailing the opposition Labour Party by 20 points in recent polls, Sunak is focusing on immigration policy in an attempt to narrow the gap ahead of a general election he must hold in the next 14 months. At the start of the year, he made “stopping the boats” full of migrants arriving from France one of his five key pledges to voters, and he’s expended considerable political capital trying to bring the Rwanda policy to fruition, arguing it’ll deter immigrants from making the journey across the English Channel. 

Cleverly on Tuesday argued the new treaty with Rwanda would allay the concerns expressed by UK courts including that deportees faced a risk of “refoulement,” or being forcibly returned by Rwanda to their home countries. 

The bill published Wednesday would atttempt to designate Rwanda a safe destination. In a preamble to the legislation, however, Cleverly said he was “unable” to make a statement guaranteeing it was compatible with ECHR rights, adding “but the government nevertheless wishes the house to proceed with the bill.”

Sunak told Bloomberg on Wednesday he’s happy with the bill and doesn’t regard it as a gamble, though questions swirled around Westminster whether Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick had quit because the bill wasn’t strong enough. Cleverly declined to answer when asked by his Labour counterpart, Yvette Cooper in the Commons whether that was the case.

Ahead of the bill’s publication, the prime minister was being pulled in two directions by competing Tory factions: those on the right who wanted him to effectively opt the UK out of the ECHR on asylum cases, and centrists who favored a middle option that would only disapply UK laws, whilst still heeding the country’s international obligations. 

Earlier on Wednesday, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman appealed to the premier to satisfy the demands of the Tory right, calling in the House of Commons for him to include so-called “notwithstanding” clauses in the legislation that would waive provisions of the Human Rights Act, ECHR, the 1951 Refugee Convention, and other international law. 

“It is now or never,” said Braverman, who was fired by Sunak earlier this month and has sought to present herself as a standard-bearer for the right of the party. “The Conservative Party faces electoral oblivion in a matter of months if we introduce yet another bill destined to fail. Do we fight for sovereignty or let our party die?” 

Sunak appears to have tried to carve out a route that seeks to please both sides, giving British authorities leeway to override some provisions in human rights statutes without completely waiving them.

Tories from both factions emerged from a meeting with Sunak on Wednesday broadly expressing satisfaction with the bill, although some said they were reserving judgment until they’d had time to analyze it further. Attendees said that inside the meeting Sunak told MPs Rwanda had insisted the UK does not break international law and urged his MPs to unite or face electoral defeat.

The One Nation caucus of centrists issued a statement saying they welcomed the government’s decision “to continue to meet the UK’s international commitments which uphold the rule of law.”

The centrists said they were taking legal advice from former Solicitor-General Edward Garnier, now a member of the House of Lords, “about concerns and the practicalities of the Bill.” Right-wingers, meanwhile have said they would instruct their lawyer Martin Howe and veteran euroskeptic MP Bill Cash to go through the legislation line by line before deciding whether to try to amend it to make it stronger.

But some of their number appeared content on Wednesday.

“It has a notwithstanding clause, so that’s good,” former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg told Bloomberg. “We need to know from the legal experts that it does what it should do. The initial reading, but I’m no lawyer, is encouraging.”

(Updates with details of Tory factions starting in 12th paragraph.)

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