Two Suffolk Conservative MPs did not vote in this week's crucial vote on the government's attempt to start asylum seeker flights to Rwanda - but for very different reasons.

Neither Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter nor Ipswich's Tom Hunt took part in the vote and were recorded as abstentions.

But while Mr Hunt was at Westminster for the debate, Dr Poulter was away from Parliament. He had told his party's whips in advance that he would be unable to take part and was granted special leave of absence to miss the vote.

East Anglian Daily Times: Dr Dan Poulter was given leave of absence by the Conservative Whips to miss the vote.Dr Dan Poulter was given leave of absence by the Conservative Whips to miss the vote. (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Hunt was one of a number of potential rebel MPs who had been invited to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday morning for a breakfast meeting with the Prime Minister.

He said this meeting had persuaded him not to vote against the government, but to abstain in the crucial vote: "No one wants to stop the boats more than I do. You'd struggle to find many MPs who have raised it in Parliament as much as I have. 

"However I'm also keen to ensure that we have a Bill that works. The reality is I've voted for two previous Bills that have not had the impact I would have liked.

"Yes, small boat crossings are down by a third and the Novotel has now been cleared but we're still seeing approximately 30,000 people illegally enter our country every year and by and large stay here.

East Anglian Daily Times: Novotel in Ipswich was used to house asylum seekersNovotel in Ipswich was used to house asylum seekers (Image: Newsquest)

"This is placing significant pressure on public services, costing a fortune and raising significant issues around community cohesion. It needs to be stopped and I want to see incredibly robust action from the government to do so.

"In principle I agreed with the Bill but had and continue to have concerns about some of its shortcomings.

"This is why I took the action along with a number of other colleagues of abstaining during the second reading vote.

"We need a Bill that truly places the sovereignty of our elected Parliament at its heart and ensures that our Parliament reigns supreme."

Meanwhile Suffolk Coastal MP and former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Therese Coffey, who did vote for the government, said Rishi Sunak will be happy with winning the Rwanda Bill vote.

East Anglian Daily Times: Suffolk Coastal MP Therese CoffeySuffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey (Image: Charlotte Bond)

She said: “That was a solid vote. Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister should be very happy tonight.

“There’s a Bill, we can now get on with that Bill, clearly the Prime Minister has said he’s in a listening mode, wants to make it work.

“It was important to get the Bill through this stage and I think a majority of 44, any Prime Minister would be proud of that, especially giving the tensions today.

“For the majority of people in this country, what they care about is the money in their pocket and economic growth.”