WATCH: Cooper says “in cross-party spirit” she will not vote against Tory immigration bill

Yvette Cooper has revealed that she intends to defy the Labour whip tonight and not vote against the Tory immigration bill at this stage of its passage “in cross-party spirit”.

The chair of the home affairs select committee and former Labour leadership candidate told the Commons: “I believe that this bill is flawed, but I recognise that legislation on immigration is now needed.

“And as select committee chair, I will put forward amendments that I hope will receive cross-party support.

“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 to the House.

“Because I think it is immensely important we should be trying to build that new consensus. And I urge the government to do so because it has the opportunity to do so now.”

Labour’s new Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, argued earlier that the bill’s salary threshold of £25,600 sent a signal that those earning less are “unskilled and unwelcome”.

The proposed legislation is currently being debated in the Commons at the second reading stage. It aims to end EU freedom of movement and confer powers to ministers to create a new, post-Brexit system.

15 Labour MPs including Diane Abbott signed an amendment to the bill today that would decline to give it a second reading, partly because it “contains no provisions to end the hostile environment”.

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