‘Shame on this government’: Corbyn attacks u-turn on protections for refugee children

PUBLISHED: 11:11 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:11 20 December 2019

Jeremy Corbyn attacked Boris Johnson's removal of protections for refugee children in the Brexit bill. Picture: Parliament TV

Jeremy Corbyn attacked Boris Johnson's removal of protections for refugee children in the Brexit bill. Picture: Parliament TV

Parliament TV

Jeremy Corbyn has attacked the government’s decision to remove protections for refugee orphans from its Brexit bill just days after winning the election.

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The Labour leader called it "appalling" and was joined by other opposition MPs in parliamentary debate lambasting the move, just ahead of a vote in which the Withdrawal Agreement bill (WAB) is expected to pass.

The measures for refugee orphans and unaccompanied children, initially agreed upon by Theresa May, are one of several amendments to the WAB that the government campaigned on during the election.

MORE: Boris Johnson abandons pre-election promises on Brexit bill compromise

Corbyn said: "I now move on to what I think is one of the most appalling sections of this bill and what the prime minister has presented to us this morning.

"I want to make it clear that I see the government's removal of the protection in this bill for unaccompanied children seeking asylum is nothing short of an absolute disgrace and a piece of dishonesty toward those people who, at the moment, are clearly very, very concerned.

"Throughout the last parliament, and for his whole life, and I was talking to him last night, my good friend Lord Dubs has worked tirelessly to ensure children affected by the worst aspects of global injustice can be given sanctuary in this country.

"Now this government in its first week in office has ripped up those very hard-won commitments."

He added: "I simply say this: coming to up to Christmas shame on this government for abandoning children in this way."

Lisa Nandy, a potential candidate for the upcoming Labour leadership race, criticised the government's lack of "empathy" and said that this was not the kind of Brexit that her Leave-voting constituency of Wigan wants.

Acknowledging that Johnson has won a mandate to push ahead with Brexit, she added: "What he has not earned is the right to shoehorn into this legislation measures that are a direct attack on some of the most vulnerable children in the world.

"If he thinks that people in towns like mine who believe that we deliver Brexit want to see us turn our back on decency and tolerance and kindness and warmth and empathy, he is wrong."

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