Tory government blocks bid to enshrine child refugee rights in Brexit agreement

The Canary

MPs have voted down proposals to enshrine protections for child refugees as part of the government’s Brexit agreement.

Following his election victory, Boris Johnson re-drafted his European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and rowed back on the previous government’s acceptance of an amendment from Labour peer Lord Dubs to allow unaccompanied child refugees to continue to be reunited with their families in the UK after exit day. Dubs had fled from the Nazis on the Kindertransport to Britain when he was aged six.

 

Clause 37 of the Bill replaces the pledge with a watered-down vow for ministers to “make a statement” on the progress of the talks once the divorce with Brussels is complete.

Labour branded the move “disgraceful”, while the SNP said it could have “tragic consequences”.

With Conservative MPs voting against the amendment, it was defeated by a majority of 96 votes on Wednesday afternoon, on the Bill’s second day of committee stage scrutiny in the Commons.

In the Commons chamber, SNP home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry said:

Right now, across Europe, there are thousands of unaccompanied children living in the most desperate circumstances, many of whom are separated from their families…

And legal family reunion is a lifeline to these children who would otherwise risk their lives in dinghies or in the back of lorries in order to reach a place of safety with their family…

For the Government to seek to remove those protections now risks causing panic amongst refugee families currently separated in Europe with potentially tragic consequences.

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us