Only two Conservative votes against the Bill yesterday evening – Roger Gale and Andrew Percy.
A paltry number was to be expected, since most of those who oppose the safeguarding provisions, which the Government claims would break international law if applied, support the rest of the Bill.
Their aim therefore will be to amend those provisions during the committee stage of the Bill.
If they don’t succeed then, on paper, the Government would be close to losing Third Reading – were all those Tory MPs who didn’t back the Bill yesterday, plus all those who didn’t vote, then to oppose the Bill.
In practice, this almost certainly won’t happen, for three reasons.
First, not all those who didn’t vote will have abstained deliberately. Some will have been ill, a few abroad, and so on.
Second, not all of those who did abstain deliberately will oppose the Bill at Third Reading if the amendments that they support fail. Some will abstain, and some will end up supporting the Government, after all.
Finally, it appears from the Prime Minister’s speech during the debate yesterday that the main demand of the critics has been conceded in principle.
This is because suggested that all MPs will have the chance to debate and vote on the safeguarding provisions if they are ever brought into effect. For further details, see our ToryDiary this morning.