Keir Starmer
As backbench Conservatives prepare to debate the controversial Rwanda scheme, which has divided the party, the Labour leader deems the row and the prime minister's defence of it "utterly pathetic nonsense". Reuters

Rishi Sunak was forced to defend his controversial Rwanda Plan today at PMQs after 60 Tory rebels voted against the government's bill yesterday.

Two deputy chairmen of the Conservatives resigned from their roles as they joined dozens of Tory right-wingers, including ex-PM Boris Johnson, in backing amendments to toughen the scheme, seen as key to Sunak's pledge to cut illegal immigration.

The amendments failed to pass but indicated that Sunak is at risk of losing a main vote on his bill tonight, potentially spelling more trouble for the prime minister.

All MPs will get an overall vote on the entire bill at the third reading – only around 35 Tory rebels are needed to cause disarray in the Commons and entirely obliterate the foundations of Sunak's premiership.

With this in mind, opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer used his first question at PMQs to grill Sunak about the Rwanda deportation scheme.

The Labour leader asks the PM where the "lost" 85 per cent of the thousands slated to be sent to Rwanda initially have gone.

Sunak did not directly answer the question, and instead attacked Sir Keir for opposing the Rwanda scheme, before repeating the steps the current government has taken and wants to take on the issue.

"Sir Keir would stop the Rwanda deportation scheme even if it were working," Sunak went on to say.

He then voiced what seems to be a new campaign slogan for his party – that Sir Keir taking over would see the country sent back to "square one".

Last year, Sunak aimed to position himself as a politician of 'change', but recently seems to have reverted to presenting himself as the safe option, suggesting Starmer would reverse the progress he claims his government has made.

The Labour leader then moved on to a different aspect of the "farce" scheme, as he brands it.

He quotes reporting that Sunak originally opposed the Rwanda scheme, and asks the PM if he wishes he had kept his mind the same.

Sunak responded definitely, saying he has "absolute conviction" that the scheme will work.

He then went on the front foot to once again attack Starmer for his history of being a "lefty lawyer".

As part of this, the prime minister brandished a document on European Human Rights law that Sir Keir previously authored.

The prime minister was quickly told off by the Speaker for using props - something not allowed in the Commons.

The wrangling over Sir Keir's past work as a lawyer continues, with the prime minister highlighting that the Labour leader previously represented the Hizb ut-Tahrir – the Islamic group set to be prescribed as a terrorist organisation in the UK.

After the conclusion of PMQs and a couple of other bits of business, the House of Commons has now turned back to the Rwanda legislation.

Further amendments will be debated throughout the afternoon, and if none are accepted, a third reading vote to take place, which will be crucial for Sunak.

The PM is already under serious pressure after a new poll last week suggested The Conservative Party are on course for their worst electoral defeat since 1997.

A YouGov survey of 14,000 respondents forecasted that The Tories will hold on to just 169 seats, while Labour will claim 385.

This would deliver Sir Keir Starmer's party a majority of 120 seats in the upcoming General Election, which has to be held before the end of the year.

A Labour victory of this size would be comparable with their 1997 triumph when Tony Blair won 418 seats and John Major's Conservatives took 165.

According to these latest figures, every Red Wall seat won from Labour by Boris Johnson in 2019 would be lost, and the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, will be one of 11 Cabinet ministers to lose their seats.