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Heartless: The 289 Tory MPs Who Voted To Prevent 3,000 Refugee Children From Joining Relatives In UK – OpEd

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Please sign the new e-petition to the British government, “Britain must not turn its back on child refugees in Europe”, which has secured over 25,000 signatures in 24 hours.

Last Monday evening, the cruelty of this government was, yet again, laid bare, when, by 294 votes to 276, MPs voted against an amendment to the Immigration Bill tabled by Lord Alf Dubs, who, as the BBC described it, “arrived in the UK in 1939 as a six-year-old refugee fleeing the persecution of Jews in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.”

The amendment, calling on the government to take in 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children, already in Europe, who have relatives in the UK, was defeated “after the Home Office persuaded most potential Tory rebels that it was doing enough to help child refugees in Syria and neighbouring countries,” as the Guardian described it.

Home Office minister James Brokenshire said during the debate that the government could not support a policy that would “inadvertently create a situation in which families see an advantage in sending children alone, ahead and in the hands of traffickers, putting their lives at risk by attempting treacherous sea crossings to Europe which would be the worst of all outcomes.”

However, Keir Starmer, the shadow immigration minister, disagreed, and voiced the concerns I and numerous other British citizens have. “What it boils down to,” Starmer stated, “is to say we must abandon these children to their fate, lest if we do anything, others may follow in their footsteps. I am not prepared to take that position.”

Speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4, he said, “We are witnessing the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of people are making treacherous journeys. Some of those are children on their own and between something like 26,000 as a minimum and possibly something up to 95,000 of those children are in Europe and they are stranded.”

Citing a “chilling statistic” from Europol, about how “10,000 vulnerable child refugees are unaccounted for and have effectively vanished,” he added, “The great fear is that these children are slipping into sexual exploitation and into trafficking. They are trapped in Europe and we have to do something about it now. I applaud what the Government is doing in the regions; I think the resettlement program they have put in place is very good. But it’s not an either-or situation; we cannot turn our backs on these vulnerable children in Europe. And history will judge us on this one.”

289 Tories voted against the amendment, and I have listed them (and the other five MPs who voted against the amendment) below. If they are your MPs, do write to them and let them know how disappointed you are.

Just five Tories voted against it, and others abstained. The rebels were: Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon), Dr. Tania Mathias (Twickenham), Stephen Phillips QC (Sleaford and North Hykeham), Will Quince (Colchester) and David Warburton (Somerset and Frome).

Tania Mathias, who I got to know through her support for the We Stand With Shaker campaign (and the Fast For Shaker initiative), said accepting children at risk of harm in Europe was the “right thing to do”. Stephen Phillips, the BBC noted, said “exceptional times call for exceptional measures”, and “urg[ed] colleagues to back the amendment.”

In the Huffington Post, Phillips wrote:

The amendment concerned those unaccompanied children who are already in Europe, who have faced unspeakable horrors in their homelands, and who are exposed daily to violence and exploitation we can only imagine. They have lost or become separated from their families, often for reasons over which they have no control. They have braved the journey to our continent hoping for safety, only to end up in camps or on the streets. And they are children.

These children are in Europe, but they are in danger. They are at risk from sexual abuse and human trafficking. Europol estimates that 10,000 of them went missing last year, even after they had been registered with the authorities. And as a former Archbishop of Canterbury pointed out in a national newspaper over the weekend, doctors report that as many as half of them require treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, almost certainly acquired from sexual exploitation during their journey to Europe.

We have a proud history in the UK of helping refugees escaping from appalling horrors, particularly children. Had we not given safe haven via the Kindertransport programme to thousands of Jewish children in the run up to the Second World War, most would have died in the Holocaust. We took in refugees from Iran and Vietnam, and those fleeing Idi Amin in Uganda. We did the right thing, and I believe we must do so again.

But my conviction on this also comes from the fact that I am a father. Many of the children in these European camps are the same age as mine, and I think about what I would want for them if they were in the appalling situation which these children face. I would want them to be safe, warm, well-fed and given a chance to create a life for themselves away from conflict. That’s why I voted against the Government on this issue, and, if the Lords stick to their guns, it’s why I will continue to do so.

Lord Dubs has now tabled another amendment, which the Lords voted through last night. As the BBC explained, “The government has been defeated again in the House of Lords over calls to take in child refugees from Europe. A new amendment to the Immigration Bill from Labour’s Lord Dubs was backed by 279 votes to 172. It would force ministers to arrange the relocation of children who have made it to Europe into the UK, with the total number to be decided by the government.”

Lord Dubs also launched a new petition to the government, “Britain must not turn its back on child refugees in Europe,” which states:

The Government should accept the call to give sanctuary to child refugees who are alone and at risk in Europe.

95,000 child refugees are on their own in Europe as a result of the refugee crisis. They are sleeping rough and in makeshift camps, desperately vulnerable to abuse and to trafficking into modern slavery.

We rightly look back with pride at the leadership our nation showed in rescuing 10,000 children from Europe through the Kindertransport.

The second amendment will now go back to the Commons, so please sign and share the petition to let the government know that we do not share their flint-heartedness.

For further information, see the report, “The Long Wait,” by the Refugee Rights Data Project.

Below are the names of the MPs who voted against the amendment, via Hansard, where you can find links to their voting records.

The 294 MPs who voted to prevent 3,000 refugee children from joining their relatives in the UK

Conservatives:

Nigel Adams, Selby and Ainsty
Adam Afriyie, Windsor
Peter Aldous, Waveney
Lucy Allan, Telford
Sir David Amess, Southend West
Stuart Andrew, Pudsey
Caroline Ansell, Eastbourne
Edward Argar, Charnwood
Victoria Atkins, Louth and Horncastle
Richard Bacon, South Norfolk
Steven Baker, Wycombe
Harriett Baldwin, West Worcestershire
Stephen Barclay, North East Cambridgeshire
John Baron, Basildon and Billericay
Gavin Barwell, Croydon Central
Guto Bebb, Aberconwy
Sir Henry Bellingham, North West Norfolk
Richard Benyon, Newbury
Sir Paul Beresford, Mole Valley
Jake Berry, Rossendale and Darwen
James Berry, Kingston and Surbiton
Andrew Bingham, High Peak
Crispin Blunt, Reigate
Peter Bone, Wellingborough
Victoria Borwick, Kensington
Sir Peter Bottomley, Worthing West
Karen Bradley, Staffordshire Moorlands
Graham Brady, Altrincham and Sale West
Julian Brazier, Canterbury
Steve Brine, Winchester
James Brokenshire, Old Bexley and Sidcup
Fiona Bruce, Congleton
Robert Buckland, South Swindon
Conor Burns, Bournemouth West
Sir Simon Burns, Chelmsford
David Burrowes, Enfield, Southgate
Alistair Burt, North East Bedfordshire
Neil Carmichael, Stroud
James Cartlidge, South Suffolk
Sir William Cash, Stone
Maria Caulfield, Lewes
Alex Chalk, Cheltenham
Rehman Chishti, Gillingham and Rainham
Christopher Chope, Christchurch
Jo Churchill, Bury St. Edmunds
Greg Clark, Tunbridge Wells
Kenneth Clarke, Rushcliffe
James Cleverly, Braintree
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, The Cotswolds
Dr. Therese Coffey, Suffolk Coastal
Damian Collins, Folkestone and Hythe
Oliver Colvile, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport
Alberto Costa, South Leicestershire
Stephen Crabb, Preseli Pembrokeshire
Byron Davies, Gower
Glyn Davies, Montgomeryshire
Mims Davies, Eastleigh
Philip Davies, Shipley
Caroline Dinenage, Gosport
Jonathan Djanogly, Huntingdon
Michelle Donelan, Chippenham
Steve Double, St Austell and Newquay
Oliver Dowden, Hertsmere
Jackie Doyle-Price, Thurrock
Richard Drax, South Dorset
Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South
James Duddridge, Rochford and Southend East
Iain Duncan Smith, Chingford and Woodford Green
Philip Dunne, Ludlow
Michael Ellis, Northampton North
Jane Ellison, Battersea
Tobias Ellwood, Bournemouth East
Charlie Elphicke, Dover
George Eustice, Camborne and Redruth
Graham Evans, Weaver Vale
Nigel Evans, Ribble Valley
David Evennett, Bexleyheath and Crayford
Michael Fabricant, Lichfield
Michael Fallon, Sevenoaks
Suella Fernandes, Fareham
Mark Field, Cities of London and Westminster
Kevin Foster, Torbay
Dr. Liam Fox, North Somerset
Lucy Frazer, South East Cambridgeshire
George Freeman, Mid Norfolk
Mike Freer, Finchley and Golders Green
Sir Roger Gale, North Thanet
Sir Edward Garnier, Harborough
Mark Garnier, Wyre Forest
David Gauke, South West Hertfordshire
Nusrat Ghani, Wealden
Nick Gibb, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
Cheryl Gillan, Chesham and Amersham
John Glen, Salisbury
Robert Goodwill, Scarborough and Whitby
Michael Gove, Surrey Heath
Richard Graham, Gloucester
Helen Grant, Maidstone and The Weald
Chris Grayling, Epsom and Ewell
Chris Green, Bolton West
Damian Green, Ashford
Dominic Grieve, Beaconsfield
Andrew Griffiths, Burton
Ben Gummer, Ipswich
Sam Gyimah, East Surrey
Robert Halfon, Harlow
Luke Hall, Thornbury and Yate
Stephen Hammond, Wimbledon
Matthew Hancock, West Suffolk
Greg Hands, Chelsea and Fulham
Mark Harper, Forest of Dean
Richard Harrington, Watford
Rebecca Harris, Castle Point
Simon Hart, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Sir Alan Haselhurst, Saffron Walden
Sir Oliver Heald, North East Hertfordshire
James Heappey, Wells
Chris Heaton-Harris, Daventry
Peter Heaton-Jones, North Devon
Gordon Henderson, Sittingbourne and Sheppey
Nick Herbert, Arundel and South Downs
Damian Hinds, East Hampshire
Philip Hollobone, Kettering
Adam Holloway, Gravesham
Kris Hopkins, Keighley
Sir Gerald Howarth, Aldershot
John Howell, Henley
Ben Howlett, Bath
Nigel Huddleston, Mid Worcestershire
Jeremy Hunt, South West Surrey
Nick Hurd, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner
Stewart Jackson, Peterborough
Sajid Javid, Bromsgrove
Ranil Jayawardena, North East Hampshire
Bernard Jenkin, Harwich and North Essex
Andrea Jenkyns, Morley and Outwood
Robert Jenrick, Newark
Boris Johnson, Uxbridge and South Ruislip
Gareth Johnson, Dartford
Joseph Johnson, Orpington
Andrew Jones, Harrogate and Knaresborough
David Jones, Clwyd West
Marcus Jones, Nuneaton
Daniel Kawczynski, Shrewsbury and Atcham
Seema Kennedy, South Ribble
Simon Kirby, Brighton, Kemptown
Sir Greg Knight, East Yorkshire
Julian Knight, Solihull
Kwasi Kwarteng, Spelthorne
Mark Lancaster, Milton Keynes North
Pauline Latham, Mid Derbyshire
Andrea Leadsom, South Northamptonshire
Dr. Phillip Lee, Bracknell
Jeremy Lefroy, Stafford
Sir Edward Leigh, Gainsborough
Charlotte Leslie, Bristol North West
Oliver Letwin, West Dorset
Brandon Lewis, Great Yarmouth
Dr. Julian Lewis, New Forest East
Ian Liddell-Grainger, Bridgwater and West Somerset
David Lidington, Aylesbury
Peter Lilley, Hitchin and Harpenden
Jack Lopresti, Filton and Bradley Stoke
Jonathan Lord, Woking
Tim Loughton, East Worthing and Shoreham
Karen Lumley, Redditch
Craig Mackinlay, South Thanet
David Mackintosh, Northampton South
Anne Main, St Albans
Alan Mak, Havant
Kit Malthouse, North West Hampshire
Scott Mann, North Cornwall
Theresa May, Maidenhead
Paul Maynard, BlackpoolNorth and Cleveleys
Karl McCartney, Lincoln
Patrick McLoughlin, Derbyshire Dales
Stephen McPartland, Stevenage
Mark Menzies, Fylde
Huw Merriman, Bexhill and Battle
Stephen Metcalfe, South Basildon and East Thurrock
Maria Miller, Basingstoke
Amanda Milling, Cannock Chase
Nigel Mills, Amber Valley
Anne Milton, Guildford
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North
Nicky Morgan, Loughborough
Anne Marie Morris, Newton Abbot
David Morris, Morecambe and Lunesdale
James Morris, Halesowen and Rowley Regis
Wendy Morton, Aldridge-Brownhills
David Mowat, Warrington South
Sheryll Murray, South East Cornwall
Andrew Murrison, South West Wiltshire
Sarah Newton, Truro and Falmouth
Caroline Nokes, Romsey and Southampton North
Jesse Norman, Hereford and South Herefordshire
David Nuttall, Bury North
Dr. Matthew Offord, Hendon
Guy Opperman, Hexham
Neil Parish, Tiverton and Honiton
Priti Patel, Witham
Owen Paterson, North Shropshire
Mark Pawsey, Rugby
Mike Penning, Hemel Hempstead
John Penrose, Weston-Super-Mare
Andrew Percy, Brigg and Goole
Claire Perry, Devizes
Chris Philp, Croydon South
Sir Eric Pickles, Brentwood and Ongar
Christopher Pincher, Tamworth
Dr. Daniel Poulter, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich
Rebecca Pow, Taunton Deane
Victoria Prentis, Banbury
Mark Prisk, Hertford and Stortford
Mark Pritchard, The Wrekin
Tom Pursglove, Corby
Jeremy Quin, Horsham
Dominic Raab, Esher and Walton
John Redwood, Wokingham
Jacob Rees-Mogg, North East Somerset
Laurence Robertson, Tewkesbury
Mary Robinson, Cheadle
Andrew Rosindell, Romford
Amber Rudd, Hastings and Rye
David Rutley, Macclesfield
Antoinette Sandbach, Eddisbury
Paul Scully, Sutton and Cheam
Andrew Selous, South West Bedfordshire
Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield
Alok Sharma, Reading West
Alec Shelbrooke, Elmet and Rothwell
Keith Simpson, Broadland
Chris Skidmore, Kingswood
Chloe Smith, Norwich North
Henry Smith, Crawley
Julian Smith, Skipton and Ripon
Royston Smith, Southampton, Itchen
Sir Nicholas Soames, Mid Sussex
Amanda Solloway, Derby North
Anna Soubry, Broxtowe
Caroline Spelman, Meriden
Mark Spencer, Sherwood
Andrew Stephenson, Pendle
John Stevenson, Carlisle
Bob Stewart, Beckenham
Iain Stewart, Milton Keynes South
Rory Stewart, Penrith and The Border
Gary Streeter, South West Devon
Mel Stride, Central Devon
Graham Stuart, Beverley and Holderness
Julian Sturdy, York Outer
Rishi Sunak, Richmond (Yorks)
Desmond Swayne, New Forest West
Hugo Swire, East Devon
Robert Syms, Poole
Derek Thomas, St Ives
Maggie Throup, Erewash
Edward Timpson, Crewe and Nantwich
Kelly Tolhurst, Rochester and Strood
Justin Tomlinson, North Swindon
Michael Tomlinson, Mid Dorset and North Poole
Craig Tracey, North Warwickshire
David Tredinnick, Bosworth
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Berwick-upon-Tweed
Liz Truss, South West Norfolk
Thomas Tugendhat, Tonbridge and Malling
Andrew Turner, Isle of Wight
Andrew Tyrie, Chichester
Ed Vaizey, Wantage
Shailesh Vara, North West Cambridgeshire
Martin Vickers, Cleethorpes
Theresa Villiers, Chipping Barnet
Charles Walker, Broxbourne
Robin Walker, Worcester
Matt Warman, Boston and Skegness
Dame Angela Watkinson, Hornchurch and Upminster
Helen Whately, Faversham and Mid Kent
Heather Wheeler, South Derbyshire
Chris White, Warwick and Leamington
Craig Whittaker, Calder Valley
John Whittingdale, Maldon
Bill Wiggin, North Herefordshire
Craig Williams, Cardiff North
Gavin Williamson, South Staffordshire
Rob Wilson, Reading East
Dr. Sarah Wollaston, Totnes
Mike Wood, Dudley South
William Wragg, Hazel Grove
Jeremy Wright, Kenilworth and Southam

DUP:

Gregory Campbell, East Londonderry
Jim Shannon, Strangford

UKIP:

Douglas Carswell, Clacton

UUP:

Tom Elliott, Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Danny Kinahan, South Antrim

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Andy Worthington

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to his RSS feed (he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see his definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, and, if you appreciate his work, feel free to make a donation.

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