Immigration: Tory splits 'made simple'

Theresa May

Struggling to follow the latest Tory split about immigration and Europe? Let me see if I can help.

The home secretary believes that a proposal to give her stronger powers to deport foreign criminals is illegal, unworkable and may, in fact, lead to fewer deportations.

So, Conservative ministers have been ordered by the prime minister not to oppose it.

Yes, you read that right.

Despite all of the above David Cameron has told his troops to abstain rather than face headlines about a massive Tory revolt. He is said to be sympathetic to the aims of the backbench rebels who have refused to back down.

But….

Other coalition ministers have been told by the deputy prime minister that the Lib Dems are opposing the proposal on the grounds that it is, yes, illegal, unworkable and may, in fact, lead to fewer deportations.

This means that the key to whether it is passed or not has, in this Alice in Wonderland parliamentary saga, been handed to Ed Miliband.

Now, the Labour leader was planning to oppose the proposal on the grounds that …well, you get the idea.

But now if he does he'll be held directly responsible for killing off a policy which is likely to be very popular with voters.

However, in theory he could choose to highlight the Tory split by joining David Cameron in telling his troops to abstain.

This would lead to the surreal situation in which something all the front benches agree is - sorry to repeat myself - illegal, unworkable and may, in fact, lead to fewer deportations - will be passed by the House of Commons and it would be left to the Lords to amend or stop it.

Still puzzled?

Let's make it really simple. David Cameron faced a choice between headlines about Tory rebellions/splits/chaos and chose instead to back down/ compromise/surrender (Delete according to your political taste).

Update

Labour have decided to vote against the Tory rebel amendment whilst condemning a "weak and chaotic" government. So, it will fail thanks to the votes of the opposition and the Lib Dems but not due to Tory ministers who - did I mention - believe the proposals are illegal, unworkable and counter productive.

One senior backbench Tory source describes this as "at best the appearance of chaos".

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

Is Conservative benefit freeze fair?

David Cameron defends a benefits freeze which will affect more than twice as many working families as workless families.

Read full article

Features

  • Shiny bootsMarching orders

    Where does the phrase 'boots on the ground' come from?


  • Almaz cleaning floorAlmaz's prison

    Beaten and raped - the story of an African servant in Saudi Arabia


  • Train drawn by Jonathan Backhouse, 1825The first trainspotter

    Did this drawing mark the start of a misunderstood hobby?


  • MarijuanaHigh tech

    The start-ups hoping to transform the marijuana industry


  • Child eating ice creamTooth top tips

    Experts on ways to encourage children to look after their teeth


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.