Labour comes to Cameron's rescue as gay marriage wrecking amendment is defeated

Ed Miliband advised Labour MPs to vote against the amendment, rather than abstain, after Tory whips warned they could be defeated.

MPs have just voted to reject Tory MP Tim Loughton's wrecking amendment to the gay marriage bill by 375 votes to 70. The amendment would have introduced civil partnerships for opposite sex couples, but while many support this change in principle, MPs from all parties warned that it could delay the introduction of equal marriage (Loughton is an opponent of the bill, which is revealing of his true motives). Instead, they voted in favour of a Labour amendment to establish an immediate consultation on the issue, an improved version of the government's earlier pledge to hold a review in five years' time. 

Labour originally planned to abstain from voting on the Loughton amendment but ended up voting against it after Conservative whips warned that they were in danger of losing the vote.

Supporters of gay marriage have responded by praising Labour for opting not to play politics and declining an easy opportunity to embarrass David Cameron. Tim Montgomerie tweeted: "Hats off to Labour tonight. They've seen through @timloughton's wrecking amendment and put the gay marriage reform before politics." But, unsurprisingly, Tory opponents of gay marriage are less pleased with the outcome. Conservative MP Stewart Jackson has denounced equalities minister Maria Miller for "defending the indefensible grubby deal with Labour to ram bill through."

Here's a full list of the 70 MPs who voted for the Loughton amendment, notably including Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes. It looks as if Green MP Caroline Lucas, having earlier supported the amendment and derided claims that it would "wreck" the bill, ultimately chose not to vote for it.

Four of the Conservative MPs who voted for the amendment - Christopher Chope, Roger Gale, Anne McIntosh, Andrew Robathan - voted against the introduction of civil partnerships for same sex couples in 2004. While it's possible that they have genuinely changed their minds on this issue, it is more likely evidence that the primary motive of many of those who supported the amendment was to derail the introduction of gay marriage. As I noted earlier, the irony is that Tory MPs oppose gay marriage, which would not undermine the institution of marriage, but support heterosexual civil partnerships, which certainly would.

Conservative: 56

Adam Afriyie (Windsor), Peter Aldous (Waveney), Steven Baker (Wycombe), Andrew Bingham (High Peak), Graham Brady (Altrincham & Sale West), Andrew Bridgen (Leicestershire North West), Steve Brine (Winchester), Robert Buckland (Swindon South), Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase), Christopher Chope (Christchurch), Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswolds, The), David Davies (Monmouth), Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire), Philip Davies (Shipley), Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North), Roger Gale (Thanet North), Cheryl Gillan (Chesham & Amersham), James Gray (Wiltshire North), Charles Hendry (Wealden), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Stewart Jackson (Peterborough), Gareth Johnson (Dartford), Marcus Jones (Nuneaton), Chris Kelly (Dudley South), Pauline Latham (Derbyshire Mid), Andrea Leadsom (Northamptonshire South), Phillip Lee (Bracknell), Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater & Somerset West), Tim Loughton (Worthing East & Shoreham), Karen Lumley (Redditch), Karl McCartney (Lincoln), Anne McIntosh (Thirsk & Malton), Esther McVey (Wirral West), Anne Main (St Albans), Paul Maynard (Blackpool North & Cleveleys), Nigel Mills (Amber Valley), David Morris (Morecambe & Lunesdale), David Nuttall (Bury North), Stephen O'Brien (Eddisbury), Matthew Offord (Hendon), Chris Pincher (Tamworth), John Redwood (Wokingham), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Somerset North East), Andrew Robathan (Leicestershire South), Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet & Rothwell), Henry Smith (Crawley), Caroline Spelman (Meriden), Bob Stewart (Beckenham), Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes), Ben Wallace (Wyre & Preston North), Robert Walter (Dorset North), Heather Wheeler (Derbyshire South), Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley), John Whittingdale (Maldon), Bill Wiggin (Herefordshire North), Gavin Williamson (Staffordshire South)

Labour: 8

Joe Benton (Bootle), Rosie Cooper (Lancashire West), David Crausby (Bolton North East), Jim Dobbin (Heywood & Middleton), Frank Field (Birkenhead), Mary Glindon (Tyneside North), Paul Murphy (Torfaen), Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East).

Liberal Democrats: 3

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Simon Hughes (Bermondsey & Old Southwark), Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West).

SDLP: 3

Mark Durkan (Foyle), Dr Alasdair McDonnell (Belfast South), Margaret Ritchie (Down South)

 

David Cameron and Ed Miliband walk through the Members' Lobby to listen to the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on May 8, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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