Tory peer withdraws name from key amendment to Borders Bill | Immigration and asylum

A prominent Tory counterpart has stripped her name from a key amendment to the Borders Bill, amid a ‘fierce whipping operation’ to secure the controversial Citizenship and Borders Bill.

The government was defeated three more times in the Lords, meaning a potential new deadlock between peers and MPs, including over asylum seekers’ right to work.

Home Secretary Priti Patel was among those who personally lobbied their Tory peers on Tuesday night in a series of close votes in the House of Lords that will see at least three amendments to the Citizenship Bill and the borders revert to the Commons.

Philippa Stroud, who was a key figure behind unsuccessful efforts by Tory rebels to force the government to reverse the £20-a-week Universal Credit cut, had tabled an amendment to give asylum seekers the right to work after six months .

But sources in the Lords say Lady Stroud was put under pressure – claiming she was told she could lose the Tory whip – and the amendment was eventually put in the name of Labour’s Ruth Lister. The amendment was passed by the Lords by a single vote.

Peers described a major Tory whiplash to try to secure the Bill before recess, with the Lords promising the opportunity to socialize in order to persuade them to stay to vote late into the night. Despite three defeats, the peers passed one of the bill’s most controversial measures, the relocation of asylum seekers.

At least 66 Tory and Peer MPs had given their backing to the proposal, via a letter to the Prime Minister last month, calling for the bill to be amended to allow asylum seekers to work after six months, rather than a year .

A senior Tory official called the bill’s proposals “morally indefensible and economically illiterate”, but said the government had little appetite for compromise.

Labor faces a dilemma over whether to go ahead with a ‘ping-pong’ of the Bill, although sources said they still hoped they could force a concession before Parliament prorogued on Thursday. If the Lords send the Bill back to the Commons again, MPs could be forced to sit next week to pass the Bill.

A Labor source in the Lords said: ‘We are clearly hitting a brick wall with the Home Secretary who seems too focused on getting this legislation through and is ignoring the carefully considered advice of his peers across the House. on why certain aspects of this bill are unworkable. .”

Previously only two MPs, Simon Hoare and Tim Loughton, rebelled in the Commons when the amendment was returned to the Lords, but other MPs, including former cabinet minister Robert Buckland, have worked to try to achieve a compromise.

Current rules mean asylum seekers can be allowed to work if a decision on their claim has been delayed for more than a year. Any job must be on the Home Office’s shortage occupations list until their application is approved or rejected.

The Lords sent the Citizenship and Borders Bill back to the Commons on Tuesday night, as part of the amendments ‘ping pong’ which means MPs will have another chance to vote on the amendments on Wednesday.

The bill suffered a series of 12 defeats before the Lords in the last debate. On Tuesday, the peers debated six amendments, including the right to work, strict new conditions on the “relocation” of refugees following the government’s proposal on Rwanda and the removal of provisions that criminalize arrivals in the UK. United.

Six amendments were submitted to the peers on Tuesday evening, three of which were rejected by the government, including the offshore treatment of refugees in Rwanda. A Tory said there was a limited appetite for rebellion on this issue from centrist Tories and non-members alike, as there was a widespread belief that the policy would never happen due to legal challenges or extraordinary costs.

MPs will debate two other amendments from Lords, one by Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti on refugee convention protections and one that would not disqualify refugees who have made short stopovers in other countries.

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