MPs debating the government’s Rwanda bill are arguing about so-called “pyjama injunctions” by European courts.
But as the debate and voting on the bill looks set to go late into the night, it’s MPs who may need their pyjamas later.
These “pyjama injunctions” against deportations to Rwanda are rulings by judges in Strasbourg who have literally been got out of bed in the middle of the night.
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The former immigration minister Robert Jenrick is proposing an amendment demanding that these injunctions should not be binding on the UK nor prevent flights to Rwanda.
It’s likely to be the first amendment or new clause considered by MPs on day two of the bill’s committee stage, which can continue until 6.43pm, but may finish earlier – as happened on day one.
But an early finish to the committee stage is the only piece of good news for MPs hoping to make a getaway to their constituency at a civilised hour this evening.
There are also due to be votes on a Labour amendment, demanding an impact assessment on the costs of the Rwanda scheme, and a new clause from the party on a timetable for removals.
But that’s only three votes, taking around 15 minutes each. In an attempt to show that Labour’s opposition to the bill is puny and ineffectual, the SNP is planning a marathon session of guerrilla tactics.
‘The Nats’ are threatening to force another eight votes – yes, eight – on the “stand part” votes on each unamended clause, meaning a potential of 11 in all, with voting lasting up to three hours.
A “stand part” vote on a clause is simply to add a clause to the bill when no amendments have been passed. Often they’re a formality and go through “on the nod”, but not on such a contentious bill as this one.
Now, it’s possible that the MP in the chair, probably deputy speaker Dame Rosie Winterton, will call a halt to the SNP’s disruptive tactics after a few “stand part” divisions.
After all, unless Labour, other opposition parties and the Tory rebels back the SNP, they’ll be heavily defeated and Dame Rosie – or whoever’s in the chair – will simply declare: “I think the ayes have it.”
But if there are 11 votes, the hour-long third reading debate – the last hurdle for a bill before it heads for the House of Lords – may not start until around 10pm, meaning the final showdown in the division lobbies would not happen until around 11pm.
That’s the vote in which the diehard Tory rebels – but not all the 60 or so who rebelled on day one – will attempt to kill the bill, with the opposition parties voting against the government this time.
Another factor that may reduce the number of votes forced by the SNP, according to their MPs, is that the Glasgow sleeper leaves Euston at 11.45pm.
“I want to be on that,” one SNP MP told Sky News. “I don’t want to have to get the red-eye from Heathrow in the morning.”
So the late-night drama won’t just be about “pyjama injunctions”. It might also continue until a time when MPs would hope to be wearing their pyjamas.
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