Two North East Tory MPs joined rebels against Rishi Sunak's government over its flagship Rwanda bill tonight (Tuesday, January 16).

 Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East MP Simon Clarke and Hartlepool MP Jill Mortimer were among 60 Conservative MPs who rebelled and supported the amendment from Sir Bill Cash.

Former Cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke earlier tweeted on X: "Well this particular MP isn’t “f****** around. I will vote against if the legislation isn’t amended. Simple as that."

Despite the rebellion, Downing Street remains confident the bill as a whole will pass in a vote expected Wednesday.

If some 30 Tories joined the opposition in voting down the bill it could fail.

The rebellion comes as Sunak’s authority was dealt a fresh blow as two Tory deputy chairmen resigned to join a Conservative rebellion over his Bill, aimed at reviving the stalled Rwanda plan.

Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith stepped down in order to vote for two amendments that right-wing MPs claim will protect the Government’s flagship asylum policy from legal challenge.

Jane Stevenson also quit her role as a parliamentary private secretary in the Department for Business and Trade to back changes put forward by Conservative backbenchers.

Mr Anderson and Mr Clarke-Smith backed amendments tabled by former immigration minister Robert Jenrick and veteran Tory Sir Bill Cash “not because we are against the legislation, but because like everybody else we want it to work”, they said.

In a join letter to the Prime Minister, the two red-wall MPs said it was “important in terms of credibility” they continue to argue that measures are needed to ensure the plan is “legally wateright”.

Some 68 MPs, including 60 Tories, voted in favour of changes to the Safety of Rwanda Bill put forward by Conservative backbencher Sir Bill, which seek to ensure UK and international law cannot be used to block a person being removed to Rwanda.

The amendment was rejected by a majority of 461, but the rebellion gives an indication of the scale of unease within the Conservative Party during an election year.

Former prime minister Liz Truss, former ministers Suella Braverman and Sir Simon Clarke and former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith were also among those to back the amendments.

Mr Jenrick had aimed to change the Bill to severely limit individual asylum seekers’ ability to appeal against being put on a flight to Kigali.

The Commons later rejected his amendment 525 to 58, majority 467.

Under the Government’s plan, migrants who cross the English Channel on small boats could be sent on a one-way trip to Rwanda rather than being allowed to try to seek asylum in the UK.

The legislation and the treaty are aimed at ensuring the scheme is legally watertight following a Supreme Court ruling against it last year.

The stalled policy comes with a £290 million bill but no asylum seekers arriving via unauthorised routes have been relocated as yet following a series of challenges in the courts.

Some senior figures have threatened to vote down the Bill if it is not changed before it faces its final Commons hurdle – the third reading – which is due on Wednesday.