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Tue, 31 March 2020

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By Dods General Election Hub 2019

Labour urges Tory MPs to take 'moral stance' on child refugees amid Brexit bill row

Labour urges Tory MPs to take 'moral stance' on child refugees amid Brexit bill row
2 min read

Labour has urged Conservative MPs to take "a moral stance" on the plight of child refugees as the party launched a bid to reinsert protections to the Government's Brexit bill.

Boris Johnson faced an outcry before Christmas when it emerged that the so-called 'Dubs amendment' - guaranteeing the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family members living in the UK after it leaves the EU - had been dropped in the wake of the Tory election victory.

Labour has now tabled a fresh amendment to the flagship Brexit bill seeking to reinstate those rights, with Labour peer and former child refugee Lord Dubs teaming up with Shadow Brexit Secretary and party leadership hopeful Sir Keir Starmer to urge Conservative MPs to back it. 

The pair write: "We know that there are many Conservative MPs, including some sat around the cabinet table, who know that this decision was wrong.

"Boris Johnson may have won a majority in Parliament, but he did not win the moral argument to absolve himself of responsibility to some of the most vulnerable people in the world."

They add: "With the numbers in Parliament being what they are, it's up to you - Conservative MPs - to take a moral stance and force the government to rethink its approach on this vital issue.

"You have the power to right this wrong. This is your test - and we would urge you to hold them to account over this disgraceful decision."

The bid - which is likely to be defeated because of the Government's strong Commons majority - comes as HuffPost UK reports that minister Brandon Lewis has written to all MPs to try and reassure them the government remains committed to protecting lone child refugees after Brexit. 

The Brexit minister has reportedly told MPs that government policy "has not changed" and that the original amendment was removed from the Bill to ensure the Government has "full flexibility" to negotiate a post-Brexit deal with the EU.

A government spokesman meanwhile defended the UK's record, claiming it had done "more than the vast majority of EU countries to help unaccompanied minors".

They said: "Protecting vulnerable children will remain our priority after Brexit and this new clause reaffirms our commitment while clarifying the role of Parliament and government in negotiations."

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