Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain launched into some of the politically fraught weeks of his tenure on Monday, going through a mutiny in opposition to his flagship immigration coverage and testifying earlier than an official inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.
On a day of split-screen drama within the capital, Mr. Sunak expressed sorrow for Britain’s heavy loss of life toll from Covid-19, saying, “It’s vital that we study the teachings so we may be higher ready sooner or later.”
However he was cautious to not criticize his predecessor, Boris Johnson, whom he had served beneath as chancellor of the Exchequer through the disaster, and who got here beneath intensive questioning final week over his personal much-faulted efficiency through the pandemic.
Whereas Mr. Sunak was defending his position within the authorities’s frantic Covid response, right-wing Conservative lawmakers have been assembly a number of blocks away to debate his revised coverage of placing unlawful immigrants on one-way flights to Rwanda. The laws has fractured the get together, alienating each Tory centrists, who fear that it goes too far, and right-wingers, who contend it doesn’t go far sufficient.
With a parliamentary vote on the laws scheduled for Tuesday, Mr. Sunak faces the potential for a insurrection that might torpedo the Rwanda coverage. If lawmakers cross the plan, it may nonetheless face a string of amendments, in addition to a hostile reception within the Home of Lords, the unelected higher chamber of Parliament.
For Mr. Sunak, it provides as much as a devilishly troublesome few days. He’s beneath scrutiny for each his conduct as chancellor, when he repeatedly warned of the financial injury attributable to lockdowns, and his expertise as get together chief, making an attempt to salvage an immigration coverage that has been struck down by Britain’s high courtroom.
Mr. Sunak did his finest to decrease the temperature on the Covid listening to. He pushed again on options from the inquiry’s chief counsel, Hugo Keith, that there have been clashes between him and Mr. Johnson or different cupboard ministers over whether or not to impose lockdowns at a number of moments through the pandemic.
“I don’t suppose I ever referred to it as a conflict,” Mr. Sunak mentioned of the inner debates over Covid insurance policies. “It’s proper that there was vigorous debate, as these have been extremely consequential selections for tens of thousands and thousands of individuals.”