THE Labour Party were forced into an embarrassing and “pathetic” climbdown last night after a plan to abstain on the Tories’ draconian Immigration Bill spectacularly backfired.

Corbyn’s party was forced to vote against the bill – which sets out the Tories’ plans for the UK immigration system post-Brexit – after its members and its own MPs reacted with fury to the plan to abstain and wave it through.

They did, however, only impose a one-line whip on the vote – meaning MPs did not have to show up.

“Labour have gone from abstaining on the Immigration Bill to a one-line whip to vote against, which means their MPs should vote against it if they can be bothered staying for the vote at 10pm,” tweeted the SNP’s Stewart McDonald.

“Pathetic and insulting. SNP MPs are on a three-line whip to vote against – rightly so.”

The bill passed after 297 MPs voted in favour and 234 voted against on its second reading. It will now undergo further scrutiny at the next stage.

Speaking in the debate, the SNP's immigration spokesperson Stuart McDonald warned the bill would devastate Scotland’s economy.

He told the Commons he was in agreement that a post-Brexit Immigration Bill was required and that he welcomed the “one solitary clause in relation to Irish nationals”.

He added that this was where the consensus ended, saying: “The SNP opposes a second reading of this bill”.

“There is so much wrong with the UK immigration system that needs fixed, but this Immigration Bill will not fix anything, in fact it will make things very much worse.

“The UK immigration system is built on flawed twin pillars of a ludicrous net-migration target and an obnoxious hostile environment policy, exposed for all its nastiness by the Windrush scandal,” he said.

He added that the bill would not end either of those, but would “instead see more people ensnared by both”.

The National: Diane Abbott confirmed that members had been told to abstainDiane Abbott confirmed that members had been told to abstain

During the debate shadow home secretary Diane Abbott confirmed that the party’s MPs had been instructed to abstain, much to the anger of several backbenchers.

Abbott referenced Labour’s 2017 election manifesto, which promised that the UK would leave the EU single market and therefore end freedom of movement too.

She said she was a “slavish devotee of that magnificent document”, adding: “So on that basis the front bench of the Labour Party will not be opposing this bill this evening.”

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington repeatedly refused to take interventions from members of her own party during the speech, eventually allowing one from Ken Clarke.

The former Chancellor said the decision to abstain by Labour’s frontbench had rendered the debate “absurd”.

Earlier in the day, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard asking if he was happy with what was about to unfold in Parliament.

“Labour abstaining on the Immigration Bill? Seriously? Surely you can’t be happy with this @LabourRichard given the implications of Tory immigration policy for Scotland?” she said.

Leonard failed to respond to the First Minister.

In a statement ahead of the Commons debate, Labour said it would instead seek to “amend this bill substantially at committee stage”.

“Labour does not support the intentions contained in this bill and will therefore be seeking to amend this bill substantially at committee stage,” it read. “Our immigration system must be ready post-Brexit, and for that reason we need an immigration bill.”

“But Labour totally opposes the Tories’ disgraceful hostile environment policy, their terrible treatment of EU and UK citizens, their persistent anti-migrant campaign and their shameful labelling of workers earning less than £30,000 as low-skilled.”

However, Scottish Labour MPs Ian Murray and Martin Whitfield were among those who said they would vote against the bill whatever happened.

Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid had earlier faced pressure from senior Tories to guarantee a “civilised” post-Brexit immigration policy in the UK Government’s bid to end free movement.