Robert Jenrick has declared that he will not support Sunak's Rwanda bill.

Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

  Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick dealt a blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak by announcing his decision not to support the bill to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda this week.

Jenrick, who resigned in opposition to the bill, criticized its effectiveness, stating that it needed to go further in sidelining human rights laws for the Rwanda scheme to have a chance of success.

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, Jenrick stated, "I won't be supporting this bill, but I do think we can fix this, and that's what I want to do now." He expressed his concern for border security and determined to persuade the government and fellow parliamentarians that there is a better way.

Rishi Sunak is facing a critical leadership test as the controversial bill heads to the Commons on Tuesday, with the possibility of failure if only 28 MPs vote against it. The fate of the legislation may rest on the decision of figures like Robert Jenrick and Suella Braverman, former home secretary, along with their supporters on the right of the party, who must choose whether to vote against or abstain. The last time MPs rejected legislation at the second reading was in 1986 under Margaret Thatcher.

With Sunak's flagship legislation encountering challenges, there's increasing speculation about a potential ousting of the prime minister by factions within his own party before the election. Some backbenchers are expressing interest in reinstating either Boris Johnson or a close ally of Liz Truss, the former prime minister.

Although Boris Johnson is no longer in parliament, there are discussions among MPs about a potential return through a byelection if Sunak were to be ousted. Alternately, some are advocating for a collaboration between Johnson and Reform politician, and former Ukip leader, Nigel Farage.

Over the weekend, The Mail on Sunday reported that critics within the Tories were planning what they termed "an Advent calendar of challenges" to destabilize Sunak's leadership leading up to Christmas.

Robert Jenrick may find support in voting against the bill from members of the hard right within the party, where a "star chamber" of lawyers led by veteran Eurosceptic Bill Cash is believed to have concluded that the legislation is not effective.

In a piece for the Sunday Telegraph, Cash explained that their examination focused on whether the wording is robust enough to fulfill the government's policy objectives. He admitted, "At present it does not." Cash expressed hope that their report would assist the government in determining whether the current form of the bill is suitable or if further amendments, possibly by the government itself, are needed.

While this opens the possibility for Rishi Sunak to pledge additional amendments to strengthen the legislation later on, such a move could potentially alienate the One Nation group within the party. This faction argues that the bill dangerously encroaches upon human rights law and comes close to being unacceptable.

Centrist Tory MPs, troubled by the bill's disregard for human rights laws, are likely to vote in favor during the second reading, with the hope of introducing modifications later on. A meeting is scheduled for Monday to assess whether the legislation aligns with international law.

Michael Gove, the communities secretary, stood firm, stating that top lawyers have confirmed the government's new legislation, aimed at relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda, is "sound."

Speaking on Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips on Sky News, Gove suggested that his party has achieved a "relative success" in addressing irregular migration, which soared to a record high this summer.

Michael Gove emphasized the robustness of the legislation, stating, "It's pretty tough actually if you look at what we're saying." He acknowledged that they would consider input from colleagues and eminent lawyers like Jonathan Sumption or David Wolfson, asserting that they are clear in affirming the soundness of the law.

Gove also made it clear that the government is "not contemplating" the possibility of a general election if the legislation were to be voted down.

Within the Conservative Party, there is significant concern about the potential for a plot against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before the polls. The prospect of removing him raises apprehensions as it would introduce a third prime minister since the last election.

Damian Green, the leader of the One Nation group of MPs and a former deputy prime minister, criticized those aiming to oust Sunak, describing them as "mad, or malicious, or both."