London politics latest: Small boats bill clears Commons hurdle despite Tory backbench rebels
The Government’s controversial small boats bill cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons despite a Tory backbench rebellion.
Several Tory MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, called for amendments to the controversial Illegal Migration Bill but the legislation passed its second reading on Monday night.
MPs voted 312 to 250, majority 62, to give it a second reading.
Rishi Sunak faced the threat of a Tory revolt on Monday over his deeply controversial “small boats” bill.
The Prime Minister’s energy tsar Chris Skidmore said he would not vote for the legislation which even the Government’s own lawyers accept may be in breach of international law.
Ahead of the Illegal Migration Bill’s Second Reading, former energy minister Mr Skidmore tweeted: “I am not prepared to break international law or the human rights conventions that the UK has had a proud history of playing a leading role in establishing.
“I will not be voting for the bill tonight.”
The Illegal Migration Bill is being debated in the House of Commons with Suella Braverman defending the policy. Large crowds formed outside Parliament a "stop the Bill" protest.
Other senior Tories who have previously voiced concerns over the legislation include former Cabinet ministers David Davis, Sir Robert Buckland, and Simon Hoare, chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland Committee who is urging the PM to include legal and safe asylum routes to Britain in the bill so it is “tough and humane”.
It comes as the BBC announced Gary Lineker would return to Match Of The Day on Saturday after he was taken off air over his tweets criticising the government’s migration policy.
In a statement released on Monday, BBC Director General Tim Davie said: “Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”
Furore grows over government’s controversial asylum policy
09:05 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Good morning, and welcome to the Standard’s live blog.
We’ll be bringing you everything you need to know as the row continues over the government’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill.
The bill faces its second reading in the House of Commons this afternoon, when it will be debated by MPs and will reportedly face challenge from the Tory backbenches.
Meanwhile, the BBC and Gary Lineker are reportedly close to reaching an agreement after he allegedly breached the corporation’s impartiality rules when he criticised the bill on Twitter as “an immeasurably cruel policy”.
Follow along throughout the day as we bring you all the latest updates.
What is the Illegal Migration Bill, and why is it controversial?
09:33 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
The Illegal Migration Bill is legislation designed to crack down on people crossing the English Channel on small boats.
Unveiled in the Commons last Tuesday by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, the controversial policy would see refugees arriving by boats detained, removed and banned for life from claiming asylum in the UK.
Critics have warned the bill is “unworkable” and will leave thousands of migrants in limbo by banning them from ever claiming British citizenship.
The United Nations’ refugee agency urged MPs and peers to block the “profoundly” concerning plan, while human rights organisation Amnesty International UK said it contained nothing “fair, humane or even practical” and described it as a “shocking new low”.
But the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have defended the plans, with Rishi Sunak saying: “Stopping the boats is not just my priority, it’s the people’s priority.”
Read a full breakdown of the Illegal Migration Bill and how it would be enforced here, or listen to the Standard’s Political Editor Nicholas Cecil explain the plan on The Leader podcast.
Gary Lineker to return to BBC and receive apology - reports
09:47 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Gary Lineker is set to return to presenting Match of the Day following a row with the BBC over his comments on the government’s Illegal Migration Bill, according to reports.
Lineker ”stepped back” from the weekend’s edition of the flagship football show after he reportedly breached the corporation’s rules on impartiality, when he slammed the bill on Twitter as “an immeasurably cruel policy”.
BREAKING: Gary Lineker is due to return to hosting sport for the BBC, SSN understands pic.twitter.com/MW9Ie0qSBi
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) March 13, 2023
According to reports, Lineker will return to presenting MotD this weekend and will receive an apologyfrom the BBC.
Lineker will be allowed to tweet with ‘no restrictions’, say reports
09:56 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
According to the i newspaper, Gary Lineker will be allowed to continute tweeting about politics with “no restrictions” as part of a deal struck with the BBC in the wake of his impartiality row.
A full statement is expected to be released by the corporation at 10am.
BBC confirms Gary Lineker’s return and review of social media guidelines
10:07 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Gary Lineker will return to presenting MOTD this weekend, the BBC has confirmed, while the corporation is also set to review its social media guidelines.
BBC managers have reached a deal with Lineker, after he was accused of breaching impartiality rules with comments he made on Twitter criticising the government’s asylum policy.
In a statement released at 10am, BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: “Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”
Mr Davie also announced the BBC will be holding an “independent review into its social media guidelines”, which will focus on those such as Lineker, who work in roles outside of news and current affairs.
Lineker added in the statement: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”
Gary Lineker says he ‘cannot wait’ to return to presenting after BBC agreement reached
10:10 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming. 1/4
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 13, 2023
My difficult few days doesn’t compare to plight of refugees, says Lineker
10:14 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you. 3/4
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 13, 2023
BBC Director-General’s statement in full
10:19 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC, said in a statement released at 10am: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this. The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.
“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression. That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles.
“The BBC’s social media guidance is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure that the guidance is up to this task. It should be clear, proportionate, and appropriate.
“Accordingly, we are announcing a review led by an independent expert – reporting to the BBC – on its existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs. The BBC and myself are aware that Gary is in favour of such a review.
“Shortly, the BBC will announce who will conduct that review. Whilst this work is undertaken, the BBC’s current social media guidance remains in place.
“Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”
Lineker will abide by current social media rules until review carried out, says BBC boss
10:22 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Gary Lineker will continue to abide by the BBC’s current social media guidelines until a full review has been carried out, the corporation reports.
The BBC has unveiled plans for an independent review of its social media policies for staff, with a particular focus on those such as Mr Lineker who work outside of new and current affairs.
In an interview with the BBC, Director General Tim Davie has said: “Gary has agreed to abide by the guidance whilst the independent review takes place.”
Lineker praises UK as ‘country of predominantly tolerant people'
10:24 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you. ❤️ 4/4
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 13, 2023
Alastair Campbell praises Lineker’s ‘professionalism and integrity'
10:28 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Former journalist and Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell has praised Gary Lineker for his “professionalism, accountability and integrity” and Tim Davie for “admitting they got it wrong” after the BBC’s apology.
Well done @garylineker for showing that if you believe in professionalism, accountability and integrity with values to match you can prevail even in these populist polarised days of creeping right wing authoritarianism. And well done Tim Davie for admitting they got it wrong 1/4
— ALASTAIR CAMPBELL (@campbellclaret) March 13, 2023
‘I did the right thing’ says BBC director general
10:33 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
BBC director general Tim Davie said there have been “no easy answers” and he did the “right thing” after the corporation asked Gary Lineker to step away from Match Of The Day.
“I’ve always said we need to take proportionate action, and for some people…we’ve taken too severe action, others think we’re being too lenient,” Mr Davie has said in an interview with BBC News.
“There’s never been an easy solution but asking Gary to step back off air, I think, was a significant thing and now we look forward with this agreement, moving forward to resolve things and get back to business as usual.”
On whether he had reached an agreement on social media with Lineker after the presenter was announced to be coming back on air, Mr Davie said the presenter will “abide by the editorial guidelines” until a review has taken place.
He added: “I think it was a very big moment in terms of us saying we have to take stock here, we have to take action, we did take action which we thought was proportionate and as the BBC we did the right thing, I did the right thing.”
Keir Starmer: BBC chairman’s position ‘increasingly untenable'
10:38 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Sir Keir Starmer has described BBC chairman Richard Sharp’s position as “increasingly untenable” over the Gary Lineker row.
Speaking to broadcasters ahead of news that the Match Of The Day presenter will return to the show, the Labour Party eader said: “I think Richard Sharp’s position is increasingly untenable.
“I think most people watching the complete mess of the last few days would say how on earth is he still in position and Gary Lineker has been taken off air?
“This is a mess of the BBC’s own making, they need to sort it out and sort it out fast.”
Lineker thanks BBC director general, says he has ‘an almost impossible job’
10:41 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Also, I’d like to thank Tim Davie for his understanding during this difficult period. He has an almost impossible job keeping everybody happy, particularly in the area of impartiality. I am delighted that we’ll continue to fight the good fight, together.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 13, 2023
Staff who stepped back in solidarity with Lineker were in ‘very difficult situation’, says BBC boss
10:53 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Tim Davie has said he “respects the views” of staff at BBC Sport after presenters, pundits and commentators refused to appear on air during the weekend after Gary Lineker was told to step back from Match Of The Day.
The director-general of the corporation was asked if he is “out of touch” with staff, for not predicting the backlash which led to reduced sports programming being shown over the weekend.
“[Sports presenters] were obviously put in a very difficult situation,” Mr Davie told BBC News on Monday.
“I think people across the BBC…are all very passionate about our standing as an impartial broadcaster, so important in this world, and this affair tells you how polarised debate has become.
“I want to fight for a BBC where we can have proper calm debate (and) facilitate free speech.”
Labour welcomes BBC decision, calls for Government action
11:09 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Labour has welcomed the announcement that Gary Lineker will return to Match Of The Day and called on the Government to examine how it can protect a “truly independent and impartial BBC”.
Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said: “This is welcome and we will all be pleased to see Gary Lineker and football coverage back on the BBC this weekend. A review of the BBC’s social media guidelines is clearly needed.
“But much bigger questions remain about the impartiality and independence of the BBC from government pressures.
“The Tory government have long wanted to undermine the BBC. They appointed a BBC chair now subject to investigation over his personal links to the Conservative Party. The ongoing uncertainties around the future of the BBC are keeping it over a barrel and making it susceptible to political campaigns orchestrated by ministers, MPs and the right-wing press.
“As well as a review of the BBC’s social media guidelines, this saga should prompt the Government to examine how it protects and promotes a truly independent and impartial BBC.”
Lineker to make BBC come-back on Saturday
11:16 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Gary Lineker will make his return to the BBC on Saturday when he is set to cover the FA Cup’s quarter-finals, according to the media organisation.
The Match of the Day star will present as Manchester City comes head-to-head with Burnley at the Etihad stadium at 5.45pm, with coverage beginning on BBC One at 5.25pm.
‘Can we go back to arguing about VAR?'
11:35 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Conor McNamara, an MOTD commentator who was among those to pull out of the show in solidarity with Lineker, has penned a light-hearted tweet following the agreement reached by the BBC.
Now… can we go back to arguing about VAR?
— Conor McNamara (@ConorMcNamaraIE) March 13, 2023
Lineker refuses to answer questions as he leaves his home in London
11:37 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Gary Lineker refused to answer questions from reporters as he left his home in Barnes, south-west London on Monday morning after his return to the BBC was announced.
Taking his dog out for a walk, the Match Of The Day host told reporters: “I’ve already said what I’m going to say on Twitter.
“If I say anything more now it just encourages people to doorstep me.”
Mr Lineker refused to respond when he was asked: “Do you stand by what you said?”, “Have you won?”, “Is this a victory for common sense?” and “Has Tim Davie apologised to you personally?”.
As photographers took pictures, he said: “Right that’s enough – you’ve got your pictures”.
BBC Board says time is right for social media guidance review
11:46 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
The BBC Board has said in a statement that it “welcomes the fact that the executive has reached an agreement following the disruption of the weekend”.
It added: “Impartiality is a cornerstone of the BBC. We believe this is the right time to look at the clarity of the BBC’s social media guidance and how it is applied.
“We will support the executive in its continuing work to ensure the organisation delivers world-class, impartial content for all audiences.”
MPs to debate controversial asylum plan this afternoon
12:10 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
The clash between Gary Lineker and the BBC broke out after the presenter criticised legislation proposed by the government in a bid to clamp down on Channel crossings.
Mr Lineker had on Twitter described the controversial plan - which would remove and ban asylum seekers from re-entry if they arrive in the UK through unauthorised means - as “an immeasurably cruel policy”.
MPs are due to debate the bill this afternoon, when it comes before the House of Commons for its second reading.
Read a full breakdown of the Illegal Migration Bill and how it would be enforced here, or listen to the Standard’s Political Editor Nicholas Cecil explain the plan on The Leader podcast.
No10 refuses to be drawn on whether PM has confidence in BBC chairman
12:22 , Josh Salisbury
Downing Street has refused to say whether the Prime Minister has confidence in Tim Davie following the Gary Lineker row, stressing that the choice of BBC director-general was a matter for the corporation.
“The director-General is appointed by the BBC and it's a matter for them,” said a No10 spokesperson.
“I'm simply pointing to the fact that he's appointed by the BBC and it's a matter for them,” the spokesman added when pressed by reporters.
Asked about the Prime Minister's position on the licence fee, the spokesman said: “We remain committed to the licence fee for the rest of the current charter. But we've been clear that the BBC's funding model faces major challenges due to changes in the way people consume media.
“And it's necessary to look at ways to ensure long-term sustainability."
BBC surrendered in Gary Lineker row, says former executive
12:32 , Josh Salisbury
Former BBC news executive Sir Craig Oliver said asking Gary Lineker to return as host of Match Of The Day was a “capitulation" by the corporation.
The ex-controller of English news at BBC Global News also said the BBC is “always going to be a political football in British politics” and needs to “stand up and be clear”.
Sir Craig, who was later the Downing Street communications chief when David Cameron was prime minister, also told BBC News: “I think what's happened here is Gary Lineker 1 - BBC credibility nil.
“The reality is the BBC today has announced it will have a review of its social media guidelines. In fact, it needs a review of how it handles crisis like these."
Sir Craig said the corporation has been in a position where it was “slow to react", made the “wrong choice" when it asked Lineker to step back from his presenting role, which led to other BBC sports staff refusing to do their shows and "chaos" in the programming schedule before reversing course.
“I think it's a total mess," he added.
Downing Street ‘pleased’ Lineker row has been resolved
13:34 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Downing Street has said it is “pleased” that the row between the BBC and Gary Lineker has been brought to an end.
While they refused to say whether the Prime Minister has confidence in BBC director general Tim Davie, a No10 spokesman said: “We are pleased that this situation has been resolved and that fans will be able to watch Match Of The Day as normal this weekend.”
Gary Lineker’s son shares his pride on Twitter
14:02 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks
Proud of the old man after a busy few days. Shouldn’t need to apologise for being a good person and standing by his word. The reaction of the public has been overwhelming. Thanks for the support 👊 pic.twitter.com/lCdsGk3li1
— George Lineker (@GeorgeLineker) March 12, 2023
Tory MP Chris Skidmore ‘not voting for bill tonight'
14:42 , Miriam Burrell
Conservative MP Chris Skidmore has said he will not vote for the Illegal Migration Bill when it goes to the Commons for its second reading later on Monday.
The backbencher, who is standing down at the next general election, tweeted: “I am not prepared to break international law or the human rights conventions that the UK has had a proud history of playing a leading role in establishing.
“I will not be voting for the bill tonight.”
I am not prepared to break international law or the human rights conventions that the UK has had a proud history of playing a leading role in establishing.
I will not be voting for the bill tonight.
— Chris Skidmore (@CSkidmoreUK) March 13, 2023
Calls for Prime Minister to sack BBC chairman
14:50 , Miriam Burrell
Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey has called for Rishi Sunak to “do the right thing” and sack BBC chairman Richard Sharp.
In a tweet Mr Davey said: “The BBC has made the right decision on Gary Lineker - now it’s time for Rishi Sunak to do the right thing and sack Richard Sharp.
“The BBC needs a proper independent chair not a Johnson acolyte.”
The BBC has made the right decision on Gary Lineker - now it’s time for Rishi Sunak to do the right thing and sack Richard Sharp. The BBC needs a proper independent chair not a Johnson acolyte.
— Ed Davey (@EdwardJDavey) March 13, 2023
Bar Council: ‘A rushed bill that may undermine the rule of law’
15:28 , Miriam Burrell
The Government’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill is due for its second reading in the House of Commons at 5.30pm on Monday, with votes expected at 10pm.
But already some senior Tories have vowed not to vote in favour of the bill, including former energy minister Chris Skidmore.
Ahead of the reading, the Bar Council warned MPs that it’s “a rushed bill that may undermine the rule of law”.
Chair of the Bar, Nick Vineall KC, said: “This Bill has been introduced on an extraordinarily truncated timescale with no prior consultation.
“There is no justification for such exceptional haste which will impact the level of scrutiny and debate and ultimately makes for bad law.”
The Thick of It creator weighs in
15:51 , Miriam Burrell
Satirist Armando Iannucci said the row over impartiality at the BBC will continue until the corporation is kept separate from Government.
The Thick Of It creator, who aired his comedy series about the inner workings of life in Westminster on the BBC, wrote on Twitter: “This week’s story will keep happening unless the BBC is truly independent of the government of the day.
“Appointments to its board, and of its director general, and determination of its funding, need to be visibly separate from Downing St. Or the public will lose trust in the BBC.”
Protest planned in Parliament Square
16:09 , Miriam Burrell
Thousands are expected to protest in Parliament Square as the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill has its second reading in the House of Commons.
The demonstration is set to begin at 6pm in London, while others are planned in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
We all need to either be at this ⬇️ TODAY or do all we can to get ppl there.
I went to a briefing on the new bill last week. I can't tell you how bad it is. The government is effectively trying to criminalise seeking asylum. There will be virtually no way for *anyone* to claim. pic.twitter.com/FOtqLeW6m2
— Bridget Chapman (@BridgeeCee) March 13, 2023
A recap: What is the Illegal Migration Bill?
16:43 , Miriam Burrell
In around an hour the Illegal Migration Bill will have its second reading.
Under the legislation, anyone arriving in Britain by crossing the Channel in a small boat – or any other unauthorised means – would no longer be able to claim asylum in the UK.
Powers would be granted to detain migrants for 28 days without recourse for bail or judicial review, and then indefinitely for as long as there is a “reasonable prospect” of removal.
But refugees who arrived in the UK by boat have said detaining asylum seekers will “traumatise” them but not deter them.
Prime Minister ‘pleased’ BBC and Gary Lineker dispute ‘resolved'
17:04 , Miriam Burrell
The Prime Minister said he was “pleased” that the dispute between Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker and the BBC had been “resolved”.
Asked by the BBC during a visit to the US, whether there was an issue of political bias at the corporation, Rishi Sunak said: “No, it’s right that the BBC is impartial and it takes its obligations on impartiality very seriously.”
“I was pleased that the issue with Gary Lineker has been resolved and we can all look forward to watching Match of the Day again – not least as Southampton managed to get a point at the weekend.
“I’ll be looking forward to catching up on those highlights when I get back.
“It was right that that was a matter resolved between the BBC and Gary. I’m glad that that’s happened.”
Second reading of Illegal Migration Bill begins
17:45 , Miriam Burrell
A debate on the Illegal Migration Bill is getting underway in the House of Commons.
‘Stopping the boats is my top priority’, Braverman says
17:49 , Miriam Burrell
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in the House of Commons: “The British public know that border security is national security.
She said the public “know that the financial and social costs of illegal migration are unsustainable”.
“If our borders are to mean anything we must control who comes into this country,” Ms Braverman added.
She claimed polls show the British public back the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill 2-1.
74% arrivals are male, Home Secretary says
17:51 , Miriam Burrell
The Home Secretary said 74 per cent of arrivals in the UK in 2021 were adult males under the age of 40, not pregnant women, and many travelled through France and Albania.
‘I won’t be patronised’, Home Secretary says
17:56 , Miriam Burrell
“Nothing is more likely to inflame tensions than ignoring the public’s reasonable concerns about the current situation,” Suella Braverman told the House of Commons.
“The public are neither stupid or bigoted...and it’s irresponsible to suggest otherwise,” the Home Secretary said.
She said she had been subject to “grotesque slurs”.
“I will not be hectored by out-of-touch lefties or anyone for that matter,” Ms Braverman added.
“I won’t be patronised on what appropriate views of someone of my background can hold. I will not back down when faced with accusations of bigotry.”
Suella Braverman: Rwanda is ‘safe'
18:02 , Miriam Burrell
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said people who arrive in small boats can receive protection in Rwanda, which is a “safe” country.
“Rwanda is a dynamic country with a thriving economy,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed visiting myself, twice before, and I enjoy visiting again.”
When asked about gay rights in Rwanda, Ms Braverman said the High Court judgement points to a “world leading” relationship between the UK and Rwanda which is deemed “lawful” and “proper”.
There are ‘safe and legal routes’ for asylum seekers
18:10 , Miriam Burrell
“Our critics pretend that the UK doesn’t have any safe and legal routes and that these routes should also be unlimited,” Suella Braverman said.
The Home Secretary claimed there are “safe and legal routes” for refugees and asylum seekers. She pointed to current visa schemes for people from Hong Kong, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
Under the new legislation, only those under 18, medically unfit to fly, or those at risk of “serious harm” will be able to delay deportation, Ms Braverman said.
Braverman: ‘Our modern slavery laws are abused’
18:13 , Miriam Burrell
In 2021, 73% of people detained for removal put forward modern slavery claims, Suella Braverman said, and foreign national offenders have, on the point of removal, put in the same claims to “thwart deportation”.
“Our modern slavery laws are being abused,” the Home Secretary said.
Home Secretary: New bill ‘entirely consistent’ with Refugee Convention
18:18 , Miriam Burrell
Illegal arrivals requiring protection will receive it in a safe third country, like Rwanda, the Home Secretary said.
Denying access to the UK aslyum system to those arriving illegally from France, is “entirely consistent” with the UN Refugee Convention, Suella Braverman said.
Labour: Bill makes ‘all problems worse'
18:24 , Miriam Burrell
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said after 13 years of Tory leadership, the UK’s border security is “undermined” and the asylum system is in “chaos”.
She told the House of Commons that the Illegal Migration Bill “makes all of those problems worse”.
Asylum system in ‘total chaos’, Shadow Home Secretary says
18:27 , Miriam Burrell
“Our asylum system is in total chaos. Only 1 per cent of last year’s cases had an initial decision,” Yvette Cooper has told the House of Commons.
The Shadow Home Secretary said the backlog in asylum cases has “trebled” in the last few years and “thouands of people” are in “costly and inappropiate hotels”.
New bill ‘will deny citizenship for people like Mo Farah'
18:32 , Miriam Burrell
The Illegal Migration Bill is being debated in the House of Commons during its second reading, while a protest is taking place in Parliament Square, this evening.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the bill is “a con that makes the chaos worse”.
“It won’t stop the criminal gangs...and in fact makes it easier for them as well.”
She said the bill will “rip up” the UK’s long-standing committment to international law.
“It will deny citizenship for people like Mo Farah,” she added.
Hundreds gather in Parliament Square
18:34 , Miriam Burrell
Hundreds of protesters have gathered in Parliament Square to protest against the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill.
Zrinka Bralo, CEO of Migrants Organise, said: “We are here to stand up for dignity and justice and speak out against this new Bill, which is further dehumanising and demonising refugees and is damaging our democracy.”
Protesters chanted “money for health and education not for war and deportation” as many held placards reading “refugees always welcome”.
Parliament square now #StopTheBill #RefugeesAreWelcomeHere pic.twitter.com/8HBmN80kyN
— Care4Calais (@Care4Calais) March 13, 2023
Home Secretary: ‘I will not back down'
18:39 , Miriam Burrell
Suella Braverman earlier told the House of Commons that she has been subject to “the most grotesque slurs for saying such simple truths about the impact of unlimited and illegal migration”.
The Home Secretary said: “The worst among them, poisoned by the extreme ideology of identity politics, suggest that a person’s skin colour should dictate their political views.
“I will not be hectored by out-of-touch lefties, or anyone for that matter. I won’t be patronised on what appropriate views for someone of my background can hold. I will not back down when faced with spurious accusations of bigotry.”
Pictured: Protest in London’s Parliament Square
18:43 , Miriam Burrell
What is the second reading of a bill?
18:46 , Miriam Burrell
The Illegal Migration Bill is having its second reading in the House of Commons this evening.
The second reading is the first time a bill is debated by MPs. After the debate, MPs decide whether the bill should pass to the next stage.
MPs are now considering the second reading of the Illegal Migration Bill.
Find out more about the aims of the Bill: https://t.co/NozPy6GkkR
Track the Bill's progress: https://t.co/zMALYGMLaP
Watch the debate: https://t.co/BqWGNMNN7Z pic.twitter.com/Io1jCr7zr3
— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) March 13, 2023
Bill leaves children vulnerable, Labour claims
18:53 , Miriam Burrell
The Illegal Migration Bill is “even worse for children”, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has told MPs.
The Bill allows [the Home Office] to remove unaccompanied children and, once they hit 18, it requires [the Home Secretary] to remove them, even if the only support they have “in the entire world” is in the UK, she said.
The bill denies children “any protection from modern slavery”, Ms Cooper claimed.
Labour: ‘We won’t vote for this bill tonight’
18:57 , Miriam Burrell
Labour will vote for action to stop the gangs and for a new cross border police unit, the Shadow Home Secretary has told MPs.
“But we will not vote for more chaos,” Yvette Cooper said.
“We won’t vote for this bill tonight.”
Theresa May has concerns with Bill
19:03 , Miriam Burrell
Former Home Secretary and Prime Minister Theresa May has told the House of Commons she’s concerned that the Government has introduced the bill shortly after rolling out other legislation that attemps to crackdown on illegal migration.
She said she the bill “shouldn’t supercede” legislation whose impact is “not yet known”.
Ms May said she is concerned about the “blanket dismissal of anyone facing persuction”, including human trafficking victims.
SNP does not support Bill
19:08 , Miriam Burrell
The Illegal Migration Bill is “nothing but an important dog whistle” and SNP MPs “do not support it”, MP Alison Thewliss has said.
She said the bill “has been rushed through” on the back of legislation that is “barely even cold from last year”.
Ms Thewliss added that the bill “undermines the fundamental international conventions”.
Pictured: Protest in London as MPs debate Bill
19:13 , Miriam Burrell
Hundreds have gathered in London’s Parliament Square to protest the Illegal Migration Bill while MPs debate it in the House of Commons.
‘The aim of the Bill is not to detain people, but to remove them’
19:16 , Miriam Burrell
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said Rwanda “has the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people if necessary”.
She told MPs about detention in the UK: “We are expanding detention capacity with two new immigration removal centres, but clearly we are not building capacity to detain 40,000 people, nor do we need to. The aim of this Bill is not to detain people, but to swiftly remove them.”
She added: “Arguments that our approach cannot work because Rwanda lacks capacity are wrong.”
Intervening, Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Home Secretary has just admitted that Rwanda doesn’t have thousands of places.
“She will know that the Rwandan government has talked about taking a few hundred people … where is she expecting to send the tens of thousands of people expected to arrive in the UK this year?”
Questions raised over where detainees will be held
19:25 , Miriam Burrell
SNP MP Alison Thewliss said under the Illegal Migration Bill, the Home Office will detain everybody arriving in small boats for 28 days.
“Where on earth does the Home Secretary suggest these people are kept?” She asked.
“Will it be facilities like Manston where children were sleeping on the floor?”
Ms Thewliss added that “perhaps if we can’t fit them in more asylum hotels or shabby barracks”, the Home Secretary will “let them roam the streets” because “they won’t be able to do anything else”.
Tory MP concerned about child deportation clause
19:32 , Miriam Burrell
Tory MP Sir Robert Buckland KC said “it is simply cheaper” for asylum seekers to travel to the UK on small boats than it is to come via other means.
The South Swindon MP said he has “great concern” about clause 3 in the bill, which allows the deportation of children.
“My strong suggestion....is to ditch that clause,” he said.
No child rights assessment ahead of bill, Labour says
19:39 , Miriam Burrell
There has been no child rights impact assessment on the Illegal Migration Bill, Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson told MPs.
The bill is being debated in the House of Commons, with Labour and the SNP both vowing not to vote for it.
Dame Diana Johnson said the bill proposes “huge logistical” issues for a department that lacks a great track record for efficiency.
Lib Dems urge Torys to vote against Bill
19:49 , Miriam Burrell
“MPs should examine their conscience before voting tonight,” Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael has urged.
“We all want to see the dangerous small boat crossings stop, but this bill is not how to do it.”
MPs are expected to vote on the Illegal Migration Bill around 10pm.
We all want to see the dangerous small boat crossings stop, but this bill is not how to do it.
It targets victims, not traffickers, and demolishes our proud tradition of helping those in need.
MPs should examine their conscience before voting tonight. @amcarmichaelMP ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/svg2STxoZ1
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) March 13, 2023
Tory MPs expect amendments to Bill
20:05 , Miriam Burrell
Tory MPs have warned they expect amendments to controversial immigration reforms.
Simon Hoare, intervening during shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper’s speech, said: “There will be many on this side of the House, me included, who will vote for this Bill this evening, but with the clear understanding that we wish to see amendments to it as it progresses through Parliament, in particular in relation to women who are trafficked and to children.
“So, our votes are being given on good faith tonight in the expectation that the Bill could be amended.”
Torys warned their tone ‘not appropriate'
20:47 , Miriam Burrell
Tory former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland warned the tone of some in his own party is “not appropriate” and said there was a danger of “ineffective authoritarianism” from parts of the bill.
He told the Commons he had “great concern” about clause three on the detention of children, saying: “My strong suggestion to them when we come to amendment is to ditch that clause and to look very carefully at the way in which we deal with unaccompanied children, families and women.”
He warned his colleagues: “The tone of this debate is important. I’m concerned that in some of the utterances I hear from my party, that tone is not appropriate.”
Corbyn calls Government’s migration policy ‘a disgraceful piece of legislation'
20:47 , Matt Watts
Jeremy Corbyn called the Government’s migration policy “a disgraceful piece of legislation” at a protest in Parliament Square.
The former Labour leader, who now sits as an independent MP, spoke at the “stop the Bill” protest, saying he believed the Illegal Migration Bill would lead to the UK’s removal from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
He said: “I just heard the Home Secretary say they were going to shut down the people traffickers.
“The people traffickers exist because this policy creates a market for them and creates an opportunity for them to exploit people,” he said.
Mr Corbyn added that the Bill contained “vile language” used to “dehumanise desperate groups of people”.
‘Some of us are only able to support this Bill tonight because of the safeguards that are in written into it'
20:51 , Matt Watts
Some Tory MPs are only able to support the Illegal Migration Bill “because of the safeguards that are written into it”, the Conservative chairman of the Justice Select Committee has said.
Sir Bob Neill told the Commons: “It is not unlawful or illegitimate, faced with new and novel developments in the means of entry into the United Kingdom unlawfully, to test the legal position. That’s what the Bill does no more at this stage. It’s legitimate to do that.”
He went on: “That said, some of us are only able to support this Bill tonight because of the safeguards that are in written into it, for example habeas corpus, and others.”
Sir Bob noted that as the Bill makes its way through the Commons and the Lords “some of us will be looking to improve the protections in relation to children, in relation to families, in relation to some of the tests”.
He also insisted that “left on its own this Bill, or any other Bill, will not achieve anything”, adding: “The real need is to operationalise the situation and to improve the lamentable performance our asylum system and immigration system has had for a number of years.”
Focus on modern-day slavery questioned
21:10 , Miriam Burrell
Tory former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said he doesn’t understand “why we’ve made such a big deal of modern-day slavery”.
Sir Iain said “it represents such a tiny proportion of people that actually come over using that route”.
He went on: “When it comes to the bill, we do need to look very, very carefully at what we are saying. How will the Home Secretary be able to make a judgement about whether somebody has come legally or illegally?
“I beg my Government, which I want to succeed in this matter, to be very careful about the modern-day legislation and protect it.”
‘Refugees deserve protection, UK should be doing their part'
21:17 , Miriam Burrell
Zoe Gardner, who helped to organise the Stop the Bill protest in Parliament Square, said new migration policy “proposes to completely tear up the right to asylum”.
She said: “We have to do everything we can to raise our voice against this horrible bill … refugees deserve protection, the UK should be doing their part.”
She said the Government’s attitude to migration is “hostile, useless and divisive”.
She added: “I don’t think Rishi Sunak would listen, I think this Tory Government is way beyond listening to any of us, the best thing we could do is get them out, get the bill out, we need a Government that cares about people.”
Tory MP: ‘We simply can’t accept hundreds of millions of people as country is nearly full’
21:39 , Matt Watts
A Tory MP has said “we simply can’t accept hundreds of millions of people” as “this country is nearly full”.
Scott Benton, MP for Blackpool South, told the Commons: “Many of the people entering this country in small boats are not genuine asylum seekers.
“If their lives were truly in danger, they would have claimed sanctuary in the first safe country they arrived in. Instead, these people have travelled to many safe European nations to try to come to the UK.
“Our public services are already creaking under enormous pressure and we simply can’t accept hundreds of millions of people who would no doubt look to come here for a better life. I’m afraid this country is nearly full.”
Addressing Mr Benton, Labour’s Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) later said: “Can I just remind him who’s just finished speaking that the reason our public services are crumbling and people can’t see a dentist, the reason that NHS workers are queuing up for food banks and parents living off their children’s leftovers isn’t because of migrants or asylum seekers or refugees.
“It’s because of his Government.”
She added: “Last night Ke Huy Quan won best supporting actor at the Oscars. In the 1970s, he fled Vietnam in a refugee crisis that saw countries closing their borders to desperate people arriving by boats. Had he arrived on our shores under this Bill, he might well have been locked up and deported.”
Caroline Lucas criticises ‘immoral, deeply cruel and divisive' proposal
21:41 , Matt Watts
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas criticised the “immoral, deeply cruel and divisive” proposal, and ripped up a copy of the Bill at the end of her speech.
The MP for Brighton Pavilion said: “The Home Secretary on the face of this Bill invites Parliament to rip up international law. The only act of a Parliament that has some kind of moral integrity is to rip up her illegal and immoral Bill, which has no place on our statute book.”
Independent MP Claudia Webbe (Leicester East) said “many would argue that this is racist legislation” and criticised the powers to detain people for 28 days, claiming: “This is state-sanctioned fascism.”
MPs voting on amendment to bill
22:12 , Matt Watts
MPs have divided to vote on the Labour amendment to the Second Reading motion on the Illegal Migration Bill. The Labour amendment seeks to decline to approve the bill at second reading. The result is expected shortly.
Labour’s amendment defeated
22:17 , Matt Watts
Labour’s amendment seeking to block the Illegal Migration Bill was defeated by 249 votes to 312, majority 63.
MPs voting on bill at second reading
22:18 , Matt Watts
MPs are now voting on the Bill at second reading. The result is expected shortly.
Illegal Migration Bill clears its first Commons hurdle
22:31 , Matt Watts
The Illegal Migration Bill has cleared its first Commons hurdle after MPs voted 312 to 250, majority 62, to give it a second reading.
What happens after a second reading?
22:46 , Miriam Burrell
Once second reading is complete the bill proceeds to committee stage - where each clause and any amendments, or proposals for change, to the bill may be debated.
Committee stage involves detailed line by line examination of the separate parts of a bill. Starting from the front of the bill, members work through to the end.
Any member of the Lords can take part.
Usually starting about two weeks after the second reading debate, committee stage generally lasts for up to eight days, but can go on for longer.
Live coverage ends
22:55 , Miriam Burrell
That’s all for our live coverage tonight.
Check out our wrap of tonight’s debate in the House of Commons here.