In another twist of this Raab rebellion, Labour have just announced that they’re voting against the amendment on deportation of foreign prisoners. There had been a moment where they would abstain, but now the party has decided that as the government itself as said it is illegal and would be counterproductive, it cannot do anything other than vote it down. The party says it will come forward with proposals in the progress of the bill to facilitate and not hinder the removal of foreign prisoners. A Labour source tells me: ‘Weak and chaotic from the Prime Minister and Home Secretary on this so-called flagship bill.’
But this is interesting, because former Home Secretary David Blunkett was a co-signatory of the motion (he has since removed it because he is out of London today). The party is now saving the government’s bacon by voting against something that some of its own grandees with experience in this area think is a good idea. Although the party is very disciplined on this, I’m not sure everyone will be happy with this behind the scenes. Indeed, I suspect that some may suddenly find they need to return to their constituencies for urgent business they’ve just discovered.
To summarise, the opposition is voting down something because they’ve been told it’s illegal by a government that’s not voting it down. Which makes sense.