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Home Office ministers refuse to vote on immigration proposal they know is illegal

The extremes to which the Tory Right are prepared to go to vent their hatred both of the EU and immigrants are almost unbelievable, only matched by the supine readiness of Tory ministers to placate them. There were two key votes in the House today on the Immigration Bill, both of which took the wranglings within the Tory party against their pet hates to new and unprecedented levels.

The first concerned the attempt of the Tory Right to deport foreign criminals. An amendment supported by more than 100 MPs (including Labour’s Hazel Blears) proposed to remove foreign criminals’ ability to resist deportation on the grounds of their right to a family life. Such action would run counter to current British and EU law. The Home Office was of course perfectly well aware of this, and tried one trick after another to smother the amendment.

First they tried to insert so many prior amendments on the Order Paper that the report stage of the Bill would be talked out before the crucial amendment would be reached. When this caused mayhem on the Tory back-benches, the government retreated and at the last minute rushed out an alternative enticement. The Home Secretary May proposed that naturalised British citizens should have their citizenship removed if they were judged a threat to national security. If this were taken seriously (as opposed to being seen as an expedient deflecting device), its result would be bizarre.

Already the government has denied trials for foreign nationals suspected of terrorism; this latest proposal would have denied trials even for British citizens judged to be a terrorism risk. By depriving them of citizenship it would also have had the perverse result of making them stateless. But all to no avail for the government. When the Tory Right amendment was finally reached and voted on, the government side abstained despite the illegality of the proposal and allowed the amendment to be voted down by Labour. This must surely be the most abject dereliction of duty of any government in modern times in failing to enforce the law, and all to avoid provoking a festering faction within their own ranks.

The second amendment voted on was to remove any right of appeal for asylum seekers whose initial application has been turned down, and since this was a government amendment and they had the numbers, it carried against Labour protests. The injustice of this will be dramatic. It is already widely known that the default position of many adjudicators’ peremptory decisions on these applications is rejection (rather like the ATOS decisions on work capability assessments for the disabled), and that it is only on appeal that the applications gain serious and detailed scrutiny. If the latter part of the process is removed, as it is now going to be (unless overturned by the Lords), the result can only be a multiplication of ill-judged, perverse and wrong decisions. But it does fit this government’s brutally hard line against asylum seekers, as shown again by the recent announcement that the UK will be taking only some 500 Syrian refugees as against Germany’s 10,000.

One Comment

  1. John reid says:

    This. Is spot on, what a shame more Labour M.Ps didn’t vote against it,

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