Coffee House

Exclusive: David Cameron holds crisis talks with MPs over Immigration Bill

28 January 2014

David Cameron has been summoning Tory backbenchers to Number 10 today to personally persuade them not to back an amendment to the Immigration Bill that would reintroduce controls on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants. I have learned that a number of possible waverers who could be persuaded to change their mind and drop their support for Nigel Mills’ amendment have been called to Downing Street as part of a serious whipping operation by the government.

The whips and party leadership have also been trying out a number of unusual tactics to minimise Thursday’s rebellion:

1. Tabling ‘backbench amendments’

Whips are also trying to persuade backbenchers that it is sufficient to back the amendments tabled by Stephen Phillips, which give the Home Secretary a duty to assess whether EU immigration is excessive, and to assess the effects of new countries joining the EU.

Claim your gift

These amendments have been presented as ‘interesting’ backbench amendments by Number 10, but there is a suspicion that they may have had some official help. At any rate, the Prime Minister does instinctively want to support the amendments and I am told that he and Nick Clegg have been holding discussions about how both parties can deal with the Phillips amendments and will continue to do so in the coming days. The Liberal Democrats do not support them.

The rationale behind this is that amendments tabled by backbenchers could attract more support from dedicated rebels than an official government amendment (plus it’s a way of keeping the Lib Dems calm). Whips hope that they can siphon off enough support from the main Mills amendment to these side amendments. There is a big problem with this though. The Phillips amendments are not incompatible with the Mills amendments, which means many MPs may just choose to support both.

2. Timing

There is a chance that the Mills amendment and Dominic Raab’s one on deportation may not even get debated because of the limited time available for the report stage of the Bill. In spite of an extremely light legislative agenda at the moment, the powers that be have mysteriously found only four hours for the debate, and there is a slew of government amendments which by convention are debated first. This could mean that Raab’s second attempt at raising deportation on the floor of the House is scuppered by the same means, and the same could happen for the Mills amendment. This seems rather short-sighted, though, as it will only aggravate Conservative backbenchers.

I hear that Tory MPs received a note today asking them not to talk too much or ask too many questions at Business Statement on Thursday, as this precedes the report stage debate in the Commons.

3. Wheeling out the top dogs

Using the PM so early in the week is either a sign that the whips are seriously worried, or that they’re trying to be seriously organised. Perhaps the whips want to learn the lessons of far more serious uprisings, such as that over Syria, where the action didn’t really start until the day of the vote.

I hear on the Tory grapevine that the whips have generally become tougher recently and are handing out rollickings to MPs for missing even fairly minor votes without good reason. Unfortunately, this isn’t yet translating into obedience, but it could be a sign that Greg Hands as Deputy Chief Whip is keen to work on a tougher regime.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • wudyermucuss

    All immigration needs to stop,now.
    Illegals need to start being deported,now.
    Repatriation needs to begin,now.

    We have millions unemployed,English is rarely heard in many parts,the mass experiment has failed.

  • Wilhelm

    If David Cameron and Nick Clegg like Syrian refugees , why don’t they put a couple up in their houses ? or are they hypocrites, mass immigration is for other people and not for them ?

    • Denis_Cooper

      An excellent question.

  • Wilhelm

    If the government is going to let Syrian refugees in, they can’t let some in and not others, that would be racist. If you let one in, you have to let them ALL 20 million in. That’s only fair. Of course it would lead to the destruction of Britain, but who cares about that ? at least we can boast about our” humanitarianism.”

    • telemachus

      Just to reassure you
      There are no Africans

      • Wilhelm

        Well, that is certainly a positive and Arabs unlike Europeans are very racially aware when it comes to miscegenation, it’s a taboo.

  • Wilhelm

    The government gives £ 500 Million pounds to Syria ( the government doesn’t have any money, it’s tax payers money ) while cutting benefit to the disabled and mentally ill ( that’s real easy, because they don’t have the race industry to back them up ) I thought Britain was broke ?

  • Tony_E

    Surely the point is that under the ‘Factortame’ judgement some years ago, any law which conflicts with the Treaty of Rome obligations (i.e. free movement where there is no derogation listed), will simply struck down in the courts at the first point of attempted implementation.

    To derail what is generally a good bill to ‘make a point’ about Bulgarian and Romanian immigration, is just self aggrandising political stupidity.

    • Denis_Cooper

      No, that is not the case, as I explained last week in a comment about Bill Cash’s “magic words” here:

      • Tony_E

        I think in practice the words ‘not withstanding the 1972 EC act’ will be similarly struck down, as the purpose of the original act (from memory admittedly) is to make sure that all future legislation conforms to the objectives of the Treaty Of Rome.

        I would be fairly certain that a judge would overturn the clause in practice, using either Factortame as primary source, or by simply creating a fresh legal precedent under the principle that all domestic legislation must be written in conformity to the Treaty. In fact, the Human Rights Act has already been used to negate other legislation – which is of course domestic law so slightly different, but I’m sure that the 1972 act could be similarly construed and used to assert treaty primacy where the clauses conflict. (It’s a long time since I read law formally – the HRA was a new idea then, so if I have missed a development then I appreciate any update to that position).

        I don’t think that this is the moment to tie down a piece of generally good legislation under what is a very unlikely objective of repatriation of powers.

        • Denis_Cooper

          Bill Cash is no slouch on these matters, and he cleared his wording with parliamentary counsel as fit for the intended purpose of expressly over-ruling the provisions of the 1972 Act, which was the proviso laid down by Lord Justice Laws in the Metric Martyrs case at paragraph 63 here:

          “63 Ordinary statutes may be impliedly repealed. Constitutional statutes may not. For the repeal of a constitutional Act or the abrogation of a fundamental right to be effected by statute, the court would apply this test: is it shown that the legislature’s actual – not imputed, constructive or presumed – intention was to effect the repeal or abrogation? I think the test could only be met by express words in the later statute, or by words so specific that the inference of an actual determination to effect the result contended for was irresistible. The ordinary rule of implied repeal does not satisfy this test.”

          Indeed during that debate in May 2006 Bill Cash mentioned that case and others, at Columns 754 – 755 here:

          “However, all that case law, every one of those burdens and every aspect of that European legislation depend on one thing only – the legislative supremacy of this House in passing the European Communities Act . As a consequence, it is open to our judiciary – as in the different context of the Human Rights Act 1998 – to interpret and apply that law. That is solely, exclusively and entirely because of the European Communities Act passed by this House. If this House decides that it wishes to make changes, by whatever procedure, it is incumbent on the judiciary to give effect to that subsequent inconsistent law, provided it is express and unambiguous. That case law is laid down unequivocally

          15 May 2006 : Column 755

          by Lord Denning in the case of McCarthy’s v. Smith, by Lord Justice Laws in the case of the metric martyrs and by Lord Steyn himself in a lecture in 1996.

          There are so many misunderstandings about the role of the judiciary in these matters. So much confusion is created by invoking the principles of Community law when we are dealing with, and must continue to insist on, the principles of United Kingdom constitutional law. From the earliest days of the 17th century, in a constant movement towards the establishment of the democratic Parliament that we have today, that has been dependent on the fact that we legislate and the judges obey. I do not mean that in a derogatory sense; it is what the judges say of their own function.

          I mentioned Lord Steyn. He is well known as a distinguished lawyer, with – I would say – some influence, and with strong views about the European Community. We understand that he is enthusiastic about it. In a lecture that he gave in 1996, however, he made his opinion abundantly clear. He said

          “in countless decisions the courts have declared the unqualified supremacy of Parliament. There are no exceptions.””

          • Tony_E

            As I understand it, the cases presented above concern the UK implementation of EU Directives – thereby put into legislation via Statutory instruments, (certainly the metric martyrs case is of that nature).

            But is there any case law that deals with treaty obligations directly (rather than the secondary legislative effect of the 1972 Act), especially when that treaty was entered into with the full knowledge that the issue in question was agreed to by the government at the time of ratification?

            • Denis_Cooper

              Lord Denning was very clear about it in the 1979 case of Macarthys Ltd v Smith, as cited by Bill Cash above and as quoted by Lord Justice Laws in his verdict for the Metric Martyrs case that Bill Cash also cites:

              “Lord Denning said this at 329c-d: “Thus far I have assumed that our Parliament, whenever it passes legislation, intends to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty. If the time should come when our Parliament deliberately passes an Act with the intention of repudiating the Treaty or any provision in it or intentionally of acting inconsistently with it and says so in express terms then I should have thought that it would be the duty of the courts to follow the statute of our Parliament.””

              • Tony_E

                If pushed, it will be very interesting to see how that ruling plays out against the later in Factortame. Sooner or later, whether over this issue or another, the limits to sovereignty are going to be tested. Sooner would be better I think.

                I wouldn’t want to lose the rest of this particular bill to find out, but then again Mr Raab’s amendment seems eminently sensible to me and should not contravene the HRA or the Treaty in any event.

                • Denis_Cooper

                  Well of course the Metric Martyrs case was later than Factortame, and yet Lord Justice Laws referred to that 1979 passage from Lord Denning as “instructive”, as well as referring to Factortame.

                  In any case as he said Factortame came to no proper conclusion in court, a point mentioned here as well:


                  “73. That is the whole point. The Factortame case, when it came back to the House of Lords, they recognise, they say, there has been a change?

                  (Mr Moser) In fact, my Lord Chairman, Factortame case never had a final Act, because when it came back to the House of Lords everybody waited for the crunch and said, “Now is the House of Lords going to have to say the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act is invalid?” What Parliament did was it repealed it of its own accord.”

                • Tony_E

                  So in essence, although Factortame has been used as a turning point in EU/Domestic legal balance for over 20 years, it covers a much narrower point of principle than claimed for it, both at the time and generally in teaching law, as it wasn’t ever finally put to the test regards to the ‘setting aside’ of Primary Legislation.

                  It would only have been as wide a judgement had the government of the day stuck to its guns and had the House of Lords rule on the bill as a whole? Or could it have ruled to strike down a single clause in the bill?

  • Patricia

    Just lately hardly a day has gone by without David Cameron sliding a little further out of the closet and exposing his disregard for the feelings of British people on the question of immigration.
    Why is it so important to flood the country with even more people, Mr Cameron ?
    He won’t be a PM for much longer and I suspect he is looking to his future job. The words Euro, gravy and train come to mind

    • telemachus

      Why it is so important

      • Colonel Mustard

        Regeneration – a strange word for what is really happening here. But I suppose typical of the kind of newspeak you and your kind peddle.

        It is indeed like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.

        • telemachus

          Regeneration of the gene pool
          Regeneration of our moral outlook and energy

          • Colonel Mustard

            Until socialists like you came alone our gene pool, moral outlook and energy were never a problem.

            Having burned down the fabric of English society you are busy piling up the funeral pyre for what’s left. No amount of twaddle from you will whitewash that reality.

            Fabians – wolves in sheeps clothing.

            • telemachus

              As a descendent of the Hugenots who lives in a historical community said to be established by Hugenots I know well the benefits to our society of those from afar
              You know well the compelling arguments that our Greatness comes from the waves of migrants from Claudius on
              We used these to rule much of the world for some two centuries and then used these links to defeat the Triple Alliance and subsequently Axis in Europe in the last century and more recently the fascist Argentinian regime thousands of miles away
              The onward march of humanity demands that we continue our history
              To deny it is a hostile act

              • Colonel Mustard

                What you advocate is a hostile act. There is no comparison between the incrementally assimilated and integrated immigration of the past and what your party has done to this country in very recent years, creating a multiplicity of competing cultures and the potential for serious sectarian disorder in future.

                At the same time Labour have worked tirelessly to destroy the identity of the English people and to make them ashamed of their past. As for the UK their acts of treason extended to sowing the seeds of its potential break up.

                Then your silly fuhrer has the audacity, the blatant hypocrisy, to bleat about ‘one nation’.

                • telemachus

                  You need to work tirelessly with us to forge One Nation

                • Colonel Mustard

                  I work tirelessly against the kind of single party state fascism you represent. “Forging” one nation is what the NSDAP was all about.

                • telemachus

                  There was nothing wrong with some of the concepts you try to decry. It was the attempt to apply them without care for the sanctity of human life and without moral compass that was wrong
                  We will not make such mistakes

                • Colonel Mustard

                  You should not be seeking to “apply” anything. Your politicians should be seeking to represent not “apply”.

                  And there was everything wrong with the concepts that are decried, not just by me. Your advocacy and attempted justification of such discredited regimes is disgusting.

                  I have met many like you in my life, who romanticise totalitarianism for the ‘greater good’, and it is precisely people like you who have facilitated the excesses you seek to dismiss. You have written many times here that the end justifies the means, endorsed the gulag, advocating tarring and feathering for those whose views do not conform to yours, or “trumped up charges” against political parties you disapprove of. All of that perfectly represents the mindset that ultimately facilitates oppression and persecution. It has absolutely no place in Britain and you should be ashamed to endorse it so tediously and repetitively.

                  As for not making such mistakes the actual record of your wretched party from 1997 to 2010 provides no such assurance. You peddle a discredited ideology on behalf of a discredited party. You have nothing to trumpet or boast about. A lot less hubris and a lot more humility is warranted from you and your party.

              • vieuxceps2

                My Word! A marxoid who approves of the Empire.Tell me,how can we “continue”our”historywhen we are being hybridised out of existence?

                • telemachus

                  We have been hybridised for millennia and that is the source of ourvgreatness

                • anotherjoeblogs

                  you must be opposed to 2nd cousin marriage then and consanguinity.

                • vieuxceps2

                  The Chinese were not hybridised.Didn’t stop them ,did it? Why do immigrants such as you always claim credit for what the British people achieved? Check on the Semitic peoples too,no miscegenation there I think.

                • anotherjoeblogs

                  I will ask again – if mixing genes is the source of greatness, do you oppose 2nd cousin marriage and consanguinity ?

              • Denis_Cooper

                Huguenots, not Hugenots; as somebody who claims to be a descendant you should know that.

              • Patricia

                “As a descendent of the Hugenots ”
                Any relation to the Have nots ?

          • vieuxceps2

            Regeneration of the gene pool? Is there something wrong with your gene pool then? Mine’s okay thanks.

            • telemachus

              We have to march forward
              You must not join the gravy boaters in little englandism

              • Colonel Mustard

                The extreme socialist cant of “marching forward” is Stalin and Mao, from the middle years of the 20th Century and much misery they both created.

                Stop telling people what they should do and modify your language. We live in a democratic society with political pluralism where dissenting views reflect its health. Your aspirations for a single party state with its archaic mid-20th Century totalitarian communist exhortations of “forging”, “marching”, “need to work tirelessly”, “must”, “must not” and associated sloganeering is unwanted and inappropriate. You behave and read like a little dictator.

                People on the right have every right to express their political opinions here without stalking, labelling and attempted censorship from the likes of you. Demonising dissent is regressive and the resort of totalitarian states.

                Wishing to preserve democratic dissent, political pluralism and the best of our pre-New Labour constitution and traditions is not “little englandism” but both reasonable and caring for the future of society. A bulwark against the sectarian chaos and divisiveness you and your kind have recklessly propagated here.

              • vieuxceps2

                “We have to march forward”-Towards what exactly? Don’t write such guff.

      • vieuxceps2

        Regeneration of what? Tuberculosis? Rickets?

        • telemachus

          Regeneration to stay the inevitable decline into small minded ness
          Remember the Roman Empire which gathered people from all races and nationalities into the running of the empire

          • crosscop

            And was eventually destroyed by mass immigration..

            • telemachus

              Invasion when I read up on it

          • Colonel Mustard

            You are the one with the small mind telemachus. I suggest you spend some time researching the meanings of dogma and cant instead of wasting time preaching both here. Your ‘comments’ provide a practical example of both and your attempts to dominate discussion and coerce conformity are not healthy in an arena of political pluralism.

            That is just your opinion not a compellable religious conformity. I hope that Labour disown the kind of political extremism that you represent but sadly I think that yours is typical of the mindset that advocates and embodies that wretched party.

          • vieuxceps2

            “Roman Empire which gathered people from all races” and went into swift decline and crumbled away.Much as we’re doing now…..

    • Gareth Milner

      Perhaps because on the whole they are proven to provide a mass benefit to the economy? I mean dont let facts get in the way of a perfectly good xenophobic rant of course…

      • Patricia

        “xenophobic rant”

        I think that cliché has been wheeled out before when talking about immigration

        • John Lea

          Well said, Patricia. Anyone who even raises the possibility that mass immigration may have a negative long-term impact on the future social fabric of this country (and I’ve phrased that as delicately as i can), are immediately branded racists.

        • anotherjoeblogs

          I think it’s ‘im from huffington post, where no one can post their opinion which dissents from their PC twaddle.

      • outraged

        UCL published study showing that ” (…) between 1995-2011, on average each EEA immigrant put about £6,000 more into the public purse than they took out.

        Non-EEA immigrants each took out about £21,000 more than they put in during that period. (…) And this group is the biggest – non-EEA immigrants make up two thirds of the UK immigrant population. So both groups of immigrants – EEA and non-EEA – considered together, take out around £14,000 more than they put in, amounting to a deficit of around £95bn for the public purse between 1995-2011.”

        • Denis_Cooper

          The EEA immigrants will also start taking out more than they put in when they are no longer mostly childless young workers but firstly have children who need education and healthcare and then later grow old and dependent on others. Of course it would be different if we had the rule that young workers could come here from abroad but once they had a child they must leave, and they must in any case leave once they start to age or ail, but that is not what is happening on the whole.

          By adding extra young people to the population now we are adding extra dependent children some years later and then extra dependent elderly people some decades later; constant injections of extra young workers can provide no long term solution to the problem of the dependency ratio unless their stay here is just temporary, and in fact it will probably make matters worse.

          • outraged

            Lets hope that over time the new EU migrants will move up the career ladder and the increase in their contributions will offset the social costs associated with bringing up their children.

            • Denis_Cooper

              Well, if an EU migrant moves up the career ladder then somebody else won’t, so that would make no difference to the overall financial calculation.

              • outraged

                Perhaps it would be the right thing to liberate good and efficient Polish workers from the third world immigrant managers who got the job because of the tribal ties with second generation third worlders?

                I believe that people should be promoted on merit and even connected youngsters should learn the organisation from the bottom up.

                Most of all I am opposed the cast system so sorry, I am not in favour of your argument at all.

      • johnslattery

        They don’t. The housing crisis alone obviates all so-called economic ‘benefits’ that pro-immigration groups list. In Denmark recently it was found that “immigrants from less developed countries and their
        descendants cost the treasury 16 billion kroner a
        year (Politiken).” That’s 1.7 billion pounds, and if you scale that up to Britain’s population level, it becomes more like 10 billion pounds. A year. This broadly backs up outraged below.

        • Raw England

          I can’t believe we still have to point out that immigration — mostly black, Pakistani immigration — has cost us very, very dearly.

          Muslims alone cost us 16 billion a year via welfare.

          Blacks also cost a huge amount in welfare.

          90% of the house-building demand is due to immigration.

          It costs us billions to prevent Muslim terrorism from within our own borders.

          All the vile, parasitical “racial equality” groups etc.

          The unlimited social cost of having foreign races and cultures directly and purposely competing with us for our own native resources.

          This list can go on and on.

      • Gregory Mason

        Give me these economic “facts” and I’ll turn them into sieves.

  • Alexsandr

    does cameron want UKIP MP’s in 2015. Doesnt he see he is playing into their hands.
    UKIP dont need to campaign. Millipede and cameron are doing it for them.

  • Raw England

    So, ‘our’ Prime Minister is forcibly attempting to block the demands of the English majority.

    WHY?! The Immigration Bill is already far, far too moderate, and barely brushes the surface of what the people really want to happen regarding immigration.

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      I don’t like you. You look like Nigella but sound like a that wife beater.

      • Raw England


        • Wilhelm

          What’s with the illuminati eye ?

  • telemachus

    You have a hotline. To the immigration bill crisis

  • James Strong

    I can accept that the Prime Minister can ‘summon’ Ministers to No10.
    But a self-respecting backbencher who is ‘summoned’ should tell Cameron to ***k off.
    He should invite them, and they should make that clear. An invitation, which they might accept or decline, is OK. A summons to a backbencher most certainly is not.
    Things would be a lot better if there were more of what the scribblers call rebels.

    • HookesLaw

      Don’t talk rubbish. They have not been ‘summoned’ and you are an idiot to be taken in by journalistic hyperbole. But if any tory backbencher refused to visit the PM after being asked then I would want him deselected.

      • saffrin

        Deselecting Tory MP’s that rebel against Cameron wouldn’t leave many, if any, Tory MP’s the public would be willing to elect come 2015.
        Cameron is hanging by the skin of his teeth already.
        Few, if any members of the public will be fooled by this immigration bill in any case.
        Cameron has proved beyond doubt where he stands regards immigration by his lack of action regards the Tens of Thousands promise from 2010.

      • James Strong

        Thanks Hookey.
        If I can get an insult from telemachus as well as from you this week then I’ll be even more reinforced in my opinions.

      • southerner

        James is right. Hooke – I fear something of a misunderstanding as to the basics of constitutional law.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here