Thank you to everyone who contacted me about the ongoing refugee crisis and Brexit. I know this is a subject a lot of my constituents feel very strongly about.
As you are aware, when the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was being considered in the Lords, Lord Dubs successfully tabled an amendment which sought to preserve the existing rights of those seeking asylum – including unaccompanied minors – to join a family member in the UK. I completely agree with him (and many others) that post-Brexit we should continue to meet our obligations as we do under the current EU Dublin rules.
I was relieved that the Government accepted Lord Dubs’ Amendment last week, meaning that child refugees will still be able to reunite with aunts and uncles after Brexit. Removing this route would have been catastrophic for refugee children, and I am delighted that after sustained pressure from charities and MPs the Government decided to support a modified version of this amendment.
However, there is still long way to go. The Government’s modified amendment only allows child refugees to reunite with aunts and uncles, and does not allow for children to join siblings under the age of 18 (currently provided for under current EU regulations). Our country has a proud history of helping those fleeing conflict and persecution and I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to fight for refugee rights.
Earlier this year I spoke in support of the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill. I firmly believe that if a child refugee has been granted the right to be in the UK, his or her parents or carers should also be granted that right. Equally, children who grew up in this country with a parent who has a right to live here should be allowed that right, even after they reach the age of 18. The Bill would enable both those things to happen, while also providing vital financial support in the form of legal aid. Families are being torn apart by the current rules, and that simply has to change.
I will continue to campaign until we see the Government taking a much more compassionate approach towards refugees.