Following exchanges over the issue at PMQs earlier, a vote has just taken place during an Opposition Day debate initiated by the Liberal Democrats in which the Government was defeated on settlement rights for Gurkhas.
MPs voted by 267 to 246 in favour of a motion that the government should extend an equal right of residence to all Gurkhas.
Conservatives and Lib Dem joined forces along with, I imagine, a number of Labour rebels (28 according to sources around the murmurs around the Commons). In advance of this afternoon's vote, shadow immigration minister Damian Green said:
“We are supporting the Gurkhas today because we believe the Government is being ungenerous and unfair. A Conservative Government would give all Gurkhas and their immediate dependents the right to settle here, and we hope the Government listens and acts immediately on this matter.”
The following statements have just been put out:
David Cameron said:
"I think that everyone would like to say congratulations to Joanna Lumley for the incredible campaign that she's fought with all these brave Gurkhas, some of them very old and very infirm, coming to Parliament again and again.
"The Government attempted a shoddy deal today to try and buy off some of their backbenchers and I'm proud of the fact that it didn't work and I'm proud that Labour joined us all in the lobby and actually got the right result for Britain and for the Gurkhas.
"I also pay tribute to Nick Clegg for holding the debate today, it was pleasure to join him in that lobby and get the Government to see sense."
Shadow Immigration Minister, Damian Green added:
PoliticsHome records the following reaction from shadow defence secretary Liam Fox:
"The vote says to the Government that the current policy is regarded by the majority of people in Britain as unfair," he said.
"It's a country where people have seen immigration get out of control
and many people coming in who haven't necessarily contributed anything,
and yet the Gurkhas are discriminated against."
Challenged over the cost of allowing the Gurkhas to live in the U.K, Mr Fox conceded that this was a reasonable concern.
"That's why we put down an amendment to the motion," he said. "We said
that within a more restrictive immigration policy, we'd set a new
category for those who fought for the armed forces. We may have to
tighten immigration policy but when we do, we should do it in a fair
Mr Fox added that the government were on the "wrong side of public opinion" and were "perhaps fatally out of touch".