Alf Dubs calls on Tory MPs to defy David Cameron and 'think again' over child refugees

Posted On: 
27th April 2016

Alf Dubs today called on Tory MPs to back his calls for the Government to take in thousands of child refugees - and help boost the UK's reputation in the world. 

Lord Dubs has urged Tory MPs to 'think again' on child refugees
PA Images

The Labour peer revealed that several Conservative backbenchers U-turned on promises to support him in a crunch Commons vote on Monday.

Just five Tories rebelled against their party in the end, meaning his demand that Britain give asylum to 3,000 unaccompanied youngsters who have made it to Europe from the Middle East and Africa failed.

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But Lord Dubs - who came to the UK as a child refugee from the Czech Republic on the kindertransport nearly 80 years ago - was boosted last night when peers overwhelmingly backed his fresh bid for ministers to act.

His new amendment to the Government's Immigration Bill would oblige the UK to take in some child refugees, but does not put a precise figure on how many.

Speaking exclusively to PoliticsHome, Lord Dubs said he hoped Tory MPs would examine their conscience and vote for it when it comes before the Commons again.

He said: "Public opinion is still very supportive of this and that should weigh in the Governments considerations, although they're pretty adamant that the Prime Minister will not countenance refugees coming to Britain from Europe.

"There were a number of Tory MPs who we thought would either vote with us or abstain who actually voted against us - we lost a few who we thought were OK. The Government put enormous pressure on their backbenchers.

"My message to them would be 'please think again'. This is a humanitarian issue, it has overwhelming public support and we would come out of this much better as a country.

"If I go back to 1938, Britain took in 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees and were the only country to do so - even America refused. That was an important precedent. There are humanitarian principles that should transcend other considerations. We are only talking about five children for every constituency in the country, which isn't very much."

In the Lords last night, defence minister Earl Howe insisted the Government was committed to helping unaccompanied refugees, but said the Dubs plan would create "perverse incentives" for them to make the dangerous journey to Europe.

He also said that "transporting unaccompanied children from one part of the EU to another is not the most effective way to fulfil our duty".