.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Labour confusion over immigration bill sums up their failure as an opposition

Labour's failure to act as an effective opposition, particularly over Brexit where they have been enablers not scrutineers, was summed up last night as they struggled for a coherent position on the Tory Government's immigration bill.

As the Guardian reports, Theresa May has repeatedly said that her Brexit deal will bring freedom of movement for EU citizens to an end, and that the immigration bill will establish the new, stricter regime.

Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott has fiercely criticised the legislation, calling it “one of the flimsiest pieces of legislation on a major issue that I or many of my colleagues have seen”. “This bill, the immigration white paper and the accompanying media narrative, plays to some of the very worst aspects of the Brexit debate. In the process, it risks doing irreparable damage to business, the economy and society,” she said.

And yet when it came to the crunch, she told the House of Commons that the frontbench would not vote against the post-Brexit legislation. “The Labour party is clear that when Britain leaves the single market, freedom of movement ends, and we set this out in our 2017 manifesto. I am a slavish devotee of that magnificent document: so on that basis, the frontbench of the Labour party will not be opposing this bill this evening,” she said. She added that Labour would abstain at this stage, known as second reading, and seek amendments later:

Abbott then tweeted that the bill put “the cart before the horse” because it seeks to establish a new immigration regime before the UK’s future relationship with the EU has been settled. “Labour wants to amend bill substantially. Today isn’t a final vote!” she added.

But 90 minutes later, amid a growing backlash on social media, Labour shifted its position and announced that it would whip its MPs to vote against the bill – though many had been told by the whips that they did not need to be present in Westminster on Monday.

Despite Labour’s change of heart, the government won the vote by 297 votes to 234, a comfortable majority of 63. With only a one-line whip in force, many of Labour’s 256 MPs had permission to be absent, and just 178 were present for the late-night vote.

The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Ed Davey, accused Labour of missing a potential opportunity to defeat the government, pointing out that two Conservative MPs, Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke, had rebelled.

“It is beyond belief that some Tory MPs were more organised on opposing the government’s hostile immigration policies than the Labour shadow cabinet,” he said.

One usually loyal backbench Labour MP described his party leadership’s flip-flop on the bill as a “meltdown”, adding: “Anyone with one foot on the ground could have told you the optics of the abstention, given Brexit sensitivities, was shocking.”

This insidious and damaging bill only passed its second reading because Labour failed to get its act together. Their incompetence as an opposition is growing.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?