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Lee Anderson admits he should've backed Sunak over Rwanda and wants Tory job back after failed revolt
24 January 2024, 11:21 | Updated: 24 January 2024, 11:59
Lee Anderson has admitted he should have voted for Rishi Sunak's Rwanda bill after mounting a failed revolt against the prime minister.
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The Tory MP lost his job as a deputy chairman of the party after abstaining in the vote last week.
He had even admitted he wanted to vote against and previously said he only abstained because Labour MPs laughed at him.
Mr Sunak still won the Commons vote, passing the Rwanda bill in the form he wanted instead of bowing to rebels in his own party who wanted to toughen it up against international law.
Now, Mr Anderson has admitted he actually should have supported the PM and would like his old job back.
"To go through the 'no' lobby… was an emotional thing, really. I felt like I was letting my party down," he told the Telegraph.
"And also, I thought that I probably should have voted for it because if the bill would have been killed on that night, there was nothing else, there was no Plan B.
"There was nothing else. It was either vote for a bill that might succeed or vote against a bill and have nothing."
The Ashfield MP's abstention came after dozens of Tories tried to toughen up the bill to stop the European Court of Human Rights from intervening.
Rebels fear that asylum seekers would try to block their deportation to Rwanda, having arrived in the UK illegally.
Enough went against Mr Sunak in votes on potential amendments that there were questions over whether they would defeat him on the final vote on the bill.
They could have joined forces with opposition parties, who outright reject the idea of flying migrants to Rwanda, to defeat him - leaving the PM's position extremely vulnerable.
And they have latched on to the notion that the Rwanda plan is essential to stopping migrant boat crossings in the Channel and reviving any hopes of catching Labour in the polls.
He said he would "of course" take the deputy chairman job back if Mr Sunak offered it to him.
"I did wrong. Well I say I did wrong, I acted on a point of principle. I had to resign. I had no choice. I bear no malice or anything, it's just I know the rules," he said.
He admitted he would "of course" take the deputy chairman job back if Mr Sunak offered it to him, having quit to vote against him.
"I did wrong. Well I say I did wrong, I acted on a point of principle. I had to resign. I had no choice. I bear no malice or anything, it’s just I know the rules," he said.
Despite having previously claimed Labour MPs were "giggling and laughing and taking the mick" as he considered joining them in voting against the bill, Mr Anderson insisted he wasn't scared off by them.
"I'm the last person to be scared of stuff like that," he said.
"It was a reminder that actually I was letting my colleagues down and I'm not going to give you the satisfaction, that sort of stuff."
With the Rwanda rebellion failing to materialise into a full resistance against Mr Sunak, Sir Simon Clarke has now called for the PM to go.
But as he confesses regret over taking part in his own mini-rebellion last week, Mr Anderson admitted there is "no chance" of Mr Sunak being ousted.
"He's got a plan, we've got to stick to the plan, haven't we? Rishi's got a plan.
"I mean, Rishi's working with inflation, he's working with the debt. It looks like we've got some tax cuts coming in March. You know, if we start putting money back in people's pockets, their attitudes can change very, very quickly."