Labour came to the rescue of David Cameron after he faced the prospect of a humiliating defeat over immigration reforms at the hands of Tory rebels.
The Prime Minister was defied by backbenchers who supported laws to ensure foreign nationals who are convicted of serious crimes in the UK are deported - even if they claim it would breach their human rights.
They backed amendments to the Government’s Immigration Bill which would mean that the Home Secretary rather than judges had the final say on deportations.
The aim is to stop criminals avoiding deportation by citing Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a family life.
But although the Government says it wants to toughen up the law, it also says the change is impossible to put into practice and would actually lead to more appeals in the courts rather than less.
Tory whips, the Ministers responsible for party discipline, attempted to persuade MPs to oppose the amendment, but when it became clear they had failed Mr Cameron took the extraordinary step of ordering his Ministers to abstain on the vote to avoid a damaging public split with his own backbenchers - even though Downing Street had told journalists that the measures in the amendment would probably be ruled illegal by courts.
Labour saved Mr Cameron from the prospect of a humiliating defeat by voting against the amendment, effectively backing Government policy while Tory MPs voted against it. Liberal Democrat MPs also opposed the rebel amendment, which was defeated by 97 votes to 241.
Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) was one of a small number of Labour MPs to join forces with Tory rebels and back the tough new law.
Birmingham Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) also sponsored the amendment, although it appeared he abstained on the vote.
On the Conservative side, other sponsors of the amendment included Mark Pritchard (Con The Wrekin), Aidan Burley (Con Cannock Chase), Chris Kelly (Con Dudley South), Sir Richard Shepherd (Con Aldridge & Brownhills), Jeremy Lefroy (Con Stafford), Dan Byles (Con North Warwickshire and Bedworth), Bill Cash (Con Stone), Karen Lumley (Con Redditch) and Christopher Pincher (Con Tamworth).
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced plans to strip immigrants who had become British nationals of their citizenship, in an apparent attempt to appease Tory rebels - but this failed to convince Conservative backbenchers to toe the line.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg faced opposition from his own backbenchers over his decision to back this measure.
Former children’s minister Sarah Teather said she was “frankly aghast” that Nick Clegg and her party were backing Theresa May’s plans to strip terror suspects of their citizenship even if it leaves them stateless.
Meanwhile, 18 Conservative MPs including Dudley MP Chris Kelly sponsored another amendment giving the Home Secretary the power to ban anyone from receiving permission to stay or settle in the UK if they had Hepatitis B or HIV. This was not selected for debate by the Speaker and so no vote was held.