Author: LAMIAT SABIN
CAMPAIGNERS have condemned the “shameful” passing of the government’s much criticised post-Brexit immigration Bill at its second reading.
MPs approved the Bill at second reading by 297 votes to 234, a majority of 63, in a late-night vote yesterday.
The Bill includes ending free movement for EU citizens to Britain and places European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their families under British immigration control after Brexit.
Dubbing it “a shameful day for Britain,” Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said: “While we are optimistic about amending some of the worst of this Bill as it goes through parliament, MPs should have been fundamentally opposed to it from the outset.
“Just like the trade Bill, it hands massive powers to the government to remake the immigration system through ‘Henry VIII powers’ which allow it to bypass Parliament.
“What’s more, far from ending the hostile environment [for migrants], which has been exposed as cruel and ineffective, this Bill in effect extends it — as well as the detention and deportation system — to millions more people.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was critical of the draft Bill before it went to the vote, saying that the proposed £30,000 salary threshold for workers would “have an extremely damaging impact on science and the public services.”
She said: “Salary is not a proxy for the level of skill.”
The proposed 12-month visa would enshrine a two-tier system of workers and only interest the most “desperate” of people to come to Britain for “insecure and temporary work,” she said.
Ms Abbott initially wanted Labour MPs to abstain, despite concerns over the Bill, on the basis that they would table amendments to it at a later date.
Later the party implemented a one-line whip after it was called on to oppose it. Only 179 out of 256 Labour MPs attended to vote against it.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid had announced that the government is scrapping its target to decrease immigration to tens of thousands a year — having never met that aim.
He also said that detention centres were not covered by the Bill and insisted that the government’s policy is “absolutely clear” that it should be a “last resort” in terms of immigration control.
The Bill will return to the Commons at a later date for further scrutiny.