MP: Taking rights of child refugees out of Brexit Bill ‘disgusting’

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine has criticised the government’s decision not to enshrine the rights of child refugees in the Brexit Bill as “utterly disgusting”.

Last night MPs turned down the proposals to include legislation in the Bill that allows child refugees to continue to be reunited with their families after Brexit day.

The amendment was originally accepted by Theresa May but was taken out of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill when Boris Johnson re-drafted it.

The Edinburgh West MP told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “[The children] might have grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters who are in this country and who are citizens in this country and they’re not allowed to come here.

“That I find utterly disgusting, to treat children, any child in that way, a child who’s come from worst possible circumstance and is living in worst possible circumstances – and we can help them.  

“To turn your back on them and to do what this government wants to do is a discredit to all of us.”

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay insisted the government remains committed to taking in unaccompanied children after Brexit, but argued that the Withdrawal Bill was not the right place to do this.

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

The party also said the issue will be looked at in a separate Immigration Bill.

But Ms Jardine said she was “suspicious” of plans to deal it further down the line and added that “saying you’re committed to it is not enough, you have to act”.

“If the government doesn’t want something in legislation it’s because it doesn’t want to be held to it,” she argued.

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