ANGRY Labour chiefs have slammed the Government’s removal of a commitment to preserve the legal rights of child refugees seeking entry to the UK after Brexit.
Members of Mid Worcestershire Labour Party hit out after Dubs Amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill was rejected in Parliament during the latest stage of debate on the UK’s exit from the European Union.
A majority of 96, including all Conservative MPs voted against the amendment before the bill was approved in the House of Commons and passed to the House of Lords for the next stage of debate ahead of the UK’s departure on January 31.
The amendment would have enshrined the rights of child refugees to be reunited with family in the UK after Brexit but speaking in the House of Commons, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay insisted the issue didn’t need to feature in the withdrawal bill and would be addressed in the forthcoming immigration bill.
Despite his claim, local Labour members were left ‘appalled’ by the vote which saw both Evesham MP Nigel Huddleston and Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin vote with their Government on the matter.
Helen Russell, Labour’s candidate at December’s General Election, said: “Evesham residents have shown they care by the regular clothing collections for refugees in Calais, Syria and Greece and support given to local refugee families by both Droitwich and Evesham Welcome Refugees Groups.
“They have shown more compassion than their local MP and are angry at the callousness of this vote, which shows a total lack of concern for unaccompanied child refugees, some of whom have family in the UK who they are desperately trying to reach. They need help and support.”
The charity Safe Passage International, which provides legal support for child refugees, described the vote as a ‘bitter blow for separated child refugees’. They fear it makes it more likely that some unaccompanied children, stuck in squalid camps or sleeping rough, will undertake dangerous journeys to enter this country illegally.
David Haslam, chair of Evesham Labour Party, said: “I wrote to Mr Huddleston before Christmas pointing out that Mary, Joseph and Jesus themselves became refugees shortly after Christmas and such meanness to extremely vulnerable young people makes us seem an unpleasant country.
“I am appalled he has now voted against a commitment to assist family reunion for children, some of whom I have seen living in dreadful conditions around Calais. It makes one utterly ashamed to be British,” he said.