The debate on the Immigration Bill has just begun in the Commons. Many MPs are still trying to decide how to vote on the proposal to render foreign-born terror suspects ‘stateless’. In an attempt to persuade his party to vote with the government, Lib Dem Home Office minister Norman Baker has sent out a ‘dear colleague’ letter to MPs, leaked to Coffee House, in which he says he has amended the legislation to the extent that there is a ‘major shift’ from the Home Secretary.
This ‘major shift’ means the Home Secretary must believe the suspect being deprived of their citizenship will be able to secure alternative citizenship from another country, and that the process can be examined by an independent reviewer.
He then engages in a bit of political strategising, telling MPs that if their party does win a concession from its Coalition partners, this should be reflected in their voting:
‘Politically, if we demand major concessions from the Tories and get them, that should affect how we vote. If it doesn’t, then the incentive for them to give ground and the leverage I have diminishes.’
It will be interesting to see whether this has any sway with MPs worried about the proposals. You can read the letter in full below:
Some of you will rightly have been concerned about the proposal to deprive individuals (albeit a very small number) of citizenship. Although the circumstances are tightly defined, nevertheless I recognise there is a point of principle here. Indeed, I share that view myself.
You will know that the Lords rejected that proposal and sought instead to kick it into the long grass by setting up a committee to look at it.