David Cameron looks set to avoid a confrontation with his own backbenchers by ordering Conservative ministers to abstain in a key vote over deporting foreign criminals.
An amendment to the Immigration Bill tabled by Tory backbencher Dominic Raab would prevent foreign nationals dodging deportation after serving a jail sentence by claiming that it would breach their right to a family life
Mr Cameron's decision to abstain will split the coalition Government, as Liberal Democrat ministers have been told to oppose the amendment in the House of Commons this afternoon.
The immigration debate is underway in earnest in the Commons, exposing the rift which cuts through the Conservative Party in Westminster.
The Immigration Bill was shunted into the sidings over Christmas while ministers worked out how to head off a rebellion they saw coming.