Last night, MPs held their first vote on Priti Patel’s new immigration policy.
Labelled as “vindictive” by campaigners, Patel’s policy will bar all so called “low skilled” workers from coming to the UK.
Rather than assessing people on their merits, the policy will merely judge potential immigrants based on how much they earn.
The legislation is self-evidently bad, but there has been widespread confusion on social media after 15 Labour MPs were logged as having “abstained” on the bill – i.e. they didn’t vote against it.
However, the story isn’t as simple as it seems.
A number of the MPs reported problems with the new, online voting system, meaning their vote wasn’t properly recorded.
Former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has tweeted to say that a number of MPs had faced difficulties with the remote voting system, but that five MPs had actively said they were going to abstain – claiming that “voting against [the] immigration bill will “put further holes in the red wall”.”
As followers of the 2019 general election will remember, the Conservative Party won several seats in Labour’s traditional heartlands – gaining the votes of many pro-Brexit, anti-immigration voters.
There has also been a furore over the role of Yvette Cooper in yesterday’s debate. A viral post on Twitter accuses Cooper of “[saying] she will not vote against the Conservatives [sic] immigration bill that will see immigrants working in our care homes & hospitals being charged for healthcare.”
However, in the clip, Cooper clearly says she will put down amendments to the legislation and – if the policy doesn’t change – she will vote against it at second reading.
“As select committee chair I will put forward amendments that I hope will receive cross-party support,” she says.
“In that cross-party spirit I will not vote against the bill tonight, although if the government’s approach does not change I would expect to oppose it when it returns.”
Facts and context are important. More important than getting 1,000 likes on Twitter.