Opposition peers last night significantly softened the Government’s flagship law to deport migrants who arrive by small boat.
Labour and Lib Dem members of the House of Lords forced through a series of major changes to the Illegal Migration Bill despite ministers warning they risked wrecking the legislation.
They added a requirement that the Government complies with international treaties, removed the power for the new law to be applied retrospectively, stopped potential victims of human trafficking being detained before their cases are considered, and let unaccompanied children make asylum claims.
The first amendment on following international law was voted in by 222 to 179. Two Tories – Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth and Lord Cormack – voted against the Government.
In the second defeat, voted through by 219 to 177, the Government lost the power to deport migrants who arrived between March and the passing of the law.
The third blow to Rishi Sunak meant potential trafficking victims would no longer be held or removed before being assessed.
That amendment was passed 210 to 145. And a fourth change meaning unaccompanied children could make asylum claims was also passed, by 185 to 133.
When the bill returns to the Commons, liberal Tories could join opposition MPs to ensure the Lords amendments are enshrined in law.
The Court of Appeal will today rule on the legality of the PM’s plan to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda.