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Coffee House

Busy afternoon for whips as would-be rebels mull controversial stateless plan

7 May 2014

11:48 AM

7 May 2014

11:48 AM

The Immigration Bill pops back up in the Commons today and MPs will have a second chance to scrutinise the government’s plans to deprive foreign-born terror suspects of their citizenship. In reality, it’s their first chance as these proposals were slapped into the legislation by ministers at report stage, and no-one really understood what they meant. Tory MPs were promised a briefing on it after the vote, so they trooped through the lobbies hoping for the best. Now they’ve had a few months to mull what the plans mean, they get a chance to vote again after the Lords amended the bill to make the stateless proposals subject to a committee.

It looks as though the Liberal Democrat rebellion, which numbered seven at report stage, will be a similar size. Duncan Hames, who until late last year worked as Nick Clegg’s PPS, rebelled at report stage, and is likely to rebel again today. He tells me:

‘This power is not what I’d want the Home Secretary to have, but Labour having failed to oppose it in the first place [the Lords amendment introducing a committee] may be the only way to introduce any safeguard into the Bill.’

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Similarly, Mike Crockart says his position is unlikely to change in spite of attempts to convince him otherwise.

The Conservative position is a little more complicated. Jacob Rees-Mogg expressed concerns about the two classes of citizenship that this would create, but he has yet to declare how he will vote. It may be that the government keeps a Conservative rebellion in check because the Prime Minister is, as I blogged this morning, enjoying a fair amount of good will from his backbenchers and this tends to keep them from causing trouble. So there may be a group of MPs who are very concerned about the proposal but who do not rebel because it would have little impact. A similar thing happened on the proposals for secret courts in the Justice and Security Bill last year.

But a number of Tory MPs I’ve spoken to this morning still haven’t made up their minds and some only plan to decide during the debate. This could mean a busy afternoon ahead for the whips.

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