How will the row over the Immigration Bill pan out? Number 10 was trying to be as emollient as possible yesterday, saying it would look at all amendments, while I understand that Dominic Raab’s deportation amendment has strong private support at Cabinet level. Ministers do, though, understand that Theresa May is starting to worry that she won’t get her Bill through the House of Commons and House of Lords in time for it to become an Act, and so are leaving her be on the deportation side of things, but there could still be a scenario where PPSs demand to be able to support it, as they did last time. It is difficult to find anyone in the Conservative party who doesn’t support it (although Ken Clarke is keeping quiet).
Labour is keeping quiet for the time being on its own position on the amendment, and it is likely the path will continue to do so for as long as is possible to make the government sweat over the next few days. But aside from the problems that would be caused by the amendment being passed on Thursday, there is also a political calculation from some observers that it may force Labour to be more explicit than it has been so far on the matter of human rights: this amendment from Raab is designed to end spurious Article 8 challenges.
As for the Mills amendment, Number 10 has been trying valiantly to encourage backbenchers to support some more helpful amendments from Stephen Phillips. But interestingly some of the signatories so far don’t look like the sort to back down on the Mills amendment. They include Peter Bone and Bill Cash, who remain supporters of the original troublemaking amendment. The problem is, as Mills explained to Coffee House last week, the government-backed amendments aren’t unhelpful, but they’re also not enough in the eyes of the rebels.