Jeremy Corbyn orders Labour MPs to vote against Immigration Bill after shock U-turn

Posted On: 
28th January 2019

Labour MPs have been ordered to vote against the Government's post-Brexit immigration plans after a looming backbench rebellion forced Jeremy Corbyn into a humiliating U-turn.

Jeremy Corbyn had initally told his MPs to abstain on the Immigration Bill.
PA Images

The Labour leadership had been criticised after initially telling their MPs to abstain when the Immigration Bill was voted on in the Commons.

Party bosses insisted it was a tactical move and they would try to amend the legislation - which ushers in the end of free movement and cracks down on low-skilled migrants - at a later stage.

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But furious Labour MPs vowed to defy the party whips and vote against the bill, teeing up an embarrassing rebellion against Mr Corbyn.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said: "Freedom of movement has brought significant economic benefits for Edinburgh, Scotland, and the entire UK.

"It is something to cherish and celebrate, and we should not be turning our backs on our friends and neighbours from the EU.

"I am not prepared to abstain on this vote, and give the UK government full powers to do whatever ministers want, so I will be representing my constituents by voting against the Tories’ right-wing anti-immigrant ideology.

"Rather than blame migrants for the chaos of Brexit, responsibility lies solely with the Brexiteers who lied to voters during the referendum campaign."

With less than three hours to go until the vote, which was due at 10pm on Monday, Labour announced that their MPs would no longer be abstaining.

A text message sent to all Labour MPs said: "Those colleagues who remain on the estate may wish to be aware that we will be voting AGAINST the Second Reading of the Immigration Bill."

A Labour spokesperson insisted the decision had been taken after it became clear during the Commons debate on the bill that the Government would reject any attempts to amend it at committee stage.

But one Labour MP said it had been a "f*** up" by the party leadership after it became obvious there would be a huge backbench rebellion.

The Conservatives seized on the move, with Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes saying Labour had “made clear that they have no interest in getting control of our borders as we leave the EU”.