Author: Caron Lindsay
The controversial paper on immigration passed today, but the only one of the five amendments to it that was opposed by the leadership passed.
Earlier, Ed Davey had reached an agreement with Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary which made the defeat of the paper less likely. The leadership’s acceptance of their amendments meant that the policy on asylum seekers is pretty much what a liberal party should be offering.
The 90 minute debate was heated and passionate and saw some quality speeches. Opposing the paper, Alex Wilcock, who wrote for us yesterday, riveted the hall with a barnstormer which basically said that pandering to racists gets you nowhere and we should just be more liberal.
The leadership sent Tim Farron out to neutralise the opposition. He said – without any trace of irony – that if we didn’t pass the policy, MPs wouldn’t be able to properly oppose the forthcoming Immigration Bill. As Lisa Maria Bornemann, something not being policy hadn’t stopped him from speaking out on stuff before.
An attempt to refer the motion back failed but the leadership’s one hill that they were prepared to die on was to oppose an amendment saying we should “end the crude and arbitrary practice of the state splitting up families on grounds of income and permit families to stay together without any form of means testing or prohibition on seeking support from the state.”
The amendment passed easily to the surprise and delight of its proposers.
There are a number of outstanding key concerns around the language used in the paper, around Border Force and Immigration Enforcement, fees for visa applications, employers being used to snoop on their workforce and the DREAM act, which could become a nightmare if the young people were given status while their parents were deported.