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David Cameron and the Tory payroll vote to abstain on the Raab amendment

30 January 2014

As we revealed on Twitter earlier, David Cameron and the Tory payroll vote will abstain on Dominic Raab’s amendment. Downing Street’s logic is that they are sympathetic to the amendment’s aims but believe it to be non-compliant, eg not compatible with the law, and so are barred from voting for it by the ministerial code. But the Liberal Democrats will vote against the amendment, which is another sign of how the two coalition parties are now merely cohabiting .

Inside Downing Street, they hope that this position will prevent a split in the Tory ranks and I suspect that this will help the whips persuade a few more MPs not to vote for the Mills amendment.

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But the danger is that this concession encourages Tory MPs to back amendments in the hope of changing the government’s mind. I also suspect that there’ll be a few backbenchers looking enviously at the status that this effort has given Dominic Raab and wondering how they can emulate him.

However, the Mills amendment’s loss of momentum and Douglas Carswell announcing that he’s done with rebelling does suggest that the Tory party might just be beginning to move back into line ahead of the election campaign. One of the rebels organising for the Mills amendment conceded to me yesterday that the recent good economic news and the narrowing in the polls has made it harder to persuade Tory MPs to vote against the government.

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  • Dougie

    May has already changed the guidelines on how much weight should be given to Article 8 when considering deporting foreign criminals and Immigration Tribunal judges have just ignored it. Passing Raab amendment would have been equally futile.

  • sir_graphus

    By chance, I was sitting opposite him on the train last night (2nd class, since you ask). I was impressed by the energy he had to conduct a fast, fluent, complicated and eloquent argument on the phone at 9.30 at night. He was showing signs of great agitation. A big beast of the future, if not now, I think.

  • Kitty MLB

    More shambles and deceitful words from the pantomime horse
    of a wretched coalition. As Mr Cooper insightfully said they do not
    respect the sovereignty of parliament, they will just be done with the rule of law next.

  • HookesLaw

    Why isi the two parties going different ways over a spoiling ammendment a ‘sign of cohabiting’? Its more like Rabb cohabiting within the tories. He is lucky he is not my MP. He should campaign against the common enemy the socialists.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …yes, you socialists are we conservatives’ common enemy.

      • HookesLaw

        Making a fool of yourself as usual I see. How’s the grand wizard Mr Redneck?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …you seem to be panicky these days, lad.

          I guess that’s to be expected, given what’s happening to you socialists.

        • Kitty MLB

          Not awfully keen on conservatives and Conservatives are you?
          You actually see anyone who disagrees with Cameron
          as the enemy- absolute blind unquestionable loyalty
          even when your leader is totally wrong on every level.

    • James Strong

      Why is he lucky he is not your MP?
      Is there a veiled threat in there, that if he were your MP you would do something unpleasant to him?

      • mrsjosephinehydehartley

        But why question the motives of somebody who tells us somebody else is lucky to be (or not to be) this, that or the other?

        We don’t know why one person might think another is unlucky – but is it really healthy to believe remarks about luck constitute a “veiled threat”? – Personally I think we should steer clear of any such mumbo jumbo.

  • David Webb

    An amendment to a statute cannot be “not compatible with the law”, as once the statute has been passed, it is the law. I suppose they have been told that the Courts have ruled the European Communities Act a higher “constitutional act” that can only be repealed by express language, although Mr Justice Lawes specifically denied during that court case that there was a hierarchy of acts, before issuing a judgment claiming there was such a hierarchy of acts after all. In any case, Lawes then needed to show that the ECA act was compliant in the terms of his own judgment with previous constitutional acts, which also could not be impliedly repealed, including the Coronation Oath Act (requiring the monarch to swear to govern us according to OUR laws – not those imposed from abroad), etc. So Lawes’ judgment was casuistry at best, perjury at worst (a breach of his judicial oath of office).

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, it begins to appear that the Cameroons are too clever by half, and have driven another nail into their coffin. They’re getting quite good at that. Best run for a patent, Dave.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “they are sympathetic to the amendment’s aims but believe it to be non-compliant, eg not compatible with the law, and so are barred from voting for it by the ministerial code”.

    Of course ministers have to obey the law, and nobody should wish anything other than that, but which law are they talking about?

    Once again, Parliament is the supreme legal authority for the United Kingdom and therefore by definition nothing in any of its Acts can be illegal under the law that matters most, our national law.

    If the amendment is seen as “non-compliant” then that is because ministers believe that they have a superior duty to comply with certain laws other than our national law as enacted by Parliament; in other words


    In which case, they should not be members of it.

    • David Webb

      Exactly, Denis!

    • HookesLaw

      We would not be creating a new statute. We would be breaking our obligations under our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights and any and every criminal so affected could in any event take his case before the European Court of Human Rights — as has been the case since 1950 when a sovereign parliament created it.

      ‘Sovereign’ parliament ceded sovereignty when it created and joined the ECHR. As it did when it created and joined NATO.

      Parliament’s Human Rights Act brought the application of ECHR rules into the British judicial system so that direct appeals would not be necessary.

      The real issue is one of interpretation by our own judges and the growth in activities of the ECHR itself since 1950. There is no doubt that a coherent approach is needed on this.

      • Denis_Cooper

        Somebody else who does not believe in the sovereignty of our national Parliament, what a surprise!

        • Kitty MLB

          Each time I hear the words “European Convention of Human
          Rights” I want to scream! clearly before we joined up to
          this ” protection of Terrorists Rights” England
          must have been absolute Bedlam, criminals running riot etc..
          How dare we assume to know better then the EU.
          As we know Labour and their Leftie friends always have England’ s best interest at heart- and always respect the
          fact that the house of commons represents the electorate.
          I might just go and have a cup of tea, honestly I give up !!!

        • gelert

          What do you expect when the Grauniad is quoted ?

      • Frank

        France kicks them out al the time and nobody tells her off.
        If the govt wanted to fix this, it could immediately, but it presumably doesn’t. In short, all of our major political parties love having foreign criminals living in Britain, whatever their crimes!

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    “the two coalition parties are now merely cohabiting”
    Is this news? Let’s be honest – the boundary reform debacle ended the coalition. I do not even remember when that happened, this goes back too far.

    The only way Cameron could possibly save our bacon is to call for a General Election now (!), let Labour in and get them to make the case for retaining the Union. That is the only chance for Westminster to retain control. All other options will lead to a weakened Prime Minister (after a UKIP vote in May) resulting in a certain Scottish exit. Dave will enter the history books as the PM who lost Scotland…

  • AnotherDave

    “But the danger is that this concession encourages Tory MPs to back amendments in the hope of changing the government’s mind.”

    That’s only a danger if you want the Conservatives to lose the 2015 election.

    The voters do not like the current immigration policy. They want it to change.

    If Conservative backbenchers push for the a return to the pre-1997 immigration policy, they’re doing the right thing.

    • Hello

      “Downing Street’s logic is that they are sympathetic to the amendment’s aims but believe it to be non-compliant, eg not compatible with the law, and so are barred from voting for it by the ministerial code”

      Ah, I see you’re keen to get the final step in EU convergence done with, to abandon the rule of law.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …you Cameroons would have to support your position, as opposed to just asserting it, because anybody with a brain knows this is just another cooked-up marketeering scam, much like the rest of Cameroonianism.

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