Croydon Tory MP Chris Philp chose the eve of the annual Holocaust Memorial to announce that the government is slamming the nation’s doors shut in the face of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
The Dubs Amendment was passed in May 2016 in the wake of an increase in refugees arriving in Europe from the war in Syria. Named after former Tooting MP Alf Dubs – himself a beneficiary of asylum in Britain after fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s on a Kindertransport train – the Labour peer’s amendment required government ministers to relocate and support asylum-seeking children from the continent.
But Philp, the immigration minister, said that although the Home Office took the “responsibility for the welfare of children very seriously”, there would no longer be a legal route to Britain for these minors.
The only children still able to seek help will be those who already have relatives in Britain. Philp said they would be able to come to Britain through the existing immigration rules.
“We’re fixing the asylum system to make it firm and fair, providing compassion to those who are fleeing oppression or tyranny,” Philp claimed.
“That’s why we’re honouring our commitment to those refugees who’ve been invited to the UK, and why we will roll out a new global resettlement scheme which will welcome people through safe and legal routes.”
Under the rules as set down now by Philp and his boss, Home Secretary Priti Patel, Jewish children fleeing the Holocaust 80 years ago would have been refused refuge in this country.
Lord Dubs described the decision by Philp as “bitterly disappointing, but I’m afraid not totally surprising”.
Dubs told The Independent, “They kept the door slightly open by saying they couldn’t find any more local authority places. Now to hear them saying it’s shut altogether.
“I am surprised at the bluntness with which they’ve said it. It’s all part of a chain of events that’s making things harder for refugees.
“The ones who have got to Calais will get in touch with traffickers and try and get to the UK in the most dangerous way possible, risking their lives. Whether we’re in the EU not, we should play our part in sharing responsibility for these kids.”
Philp’s move comes despite more than 70 MPs, including seven Conservatives, calling on the government to provide “life-saving” sanctuary to unaccompanied child refugees in Europe.
In answer to a parliamentary question, Philp said, “Responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees in EU member states lies with the authorities of the safe EU country in which they are present in accordance with their international obligations.”
The Croydon South MP said it is “important that we focus on ensuring that we can care for those who are already here before we agree to taking more children”. He claimed that resettling refugees from safe European countries created a “pull factor” for refugees to travel to Europe.
“The government is prioritising resettling vulnerable refugees direct from dangerous conflict zones rather than those who have often paid people smugglers to reach other safe European countries.”
Campaigners and human rights groups contradict Philp, saying that the decision means hundreds of vulnerable children will instead be forced to use smuggling gangs to help them travel to Britain, placing them at greater risk of trafficking.
The Dubs scheme was initially supposed to offer settlement to 3,000 child refugees. The Tory government later capped this at 480 places. In May 2020, it emerged that this quota had been filled.
Croydon is often at the forefront of dealing with UASCs – unaccompanied asylum-seeking children – many of whom have their entry to Britain processed at the Home Office’s Lunar House office on Wellesley Road. The local council has been unable to persuade the government to meet the full cost of care and resettling for many UASCs, a factor cited by auditors examining the authority’s finance crisis.
The charity Safe Passage says that another 25 local authorities have offered to take some of the burden of child refugees arriving from Europe, offering more than 1,400 places provided Philp and the government provides support and a safe and legal route.
The Home Office is at present refusing to confirm when it will start a new humanitarian resettlement programme, which transfers refugees directly from conflict zones to Britain. A new programme was supposed to begin in May 2020.
Beth Gardiner-Smith, chief executive of Safe Passage International, said: “Children alone in Europe are sleeping rough in the snow, in derelict buildings and tents in overcrowded camps. Leaving the EU doesn’t mean we must turn our back on these children.
“We urge the government to continue to provide sanctuary to some of the most vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children in Europe, demonstrating solidarity with our closest neighbours, and providing global leadership rather than retreating from our international commitments.”
- Do your bit to support Inside Croydon’s news-breaking independent local journalism. Sign up today as a supporter. Click here now
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at email@example.com
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC London News
- Inside Croydon: 3million pages views in 2020, viewed by 1.4million unique visitors
Unbelievably wrong, incredibly insensitive, he needs to be kicked out as an MP supposedly representing multicultural Croydon.
Chris Philp is a disgrace and his nasty racist policies have no place in a civilised country. On Holocaust memorial day we remember the crimes of the past and the victims of those crimes but like the criminals of the past, once he has paid for his crimes I hope his name is forgotten.
It is interesting that this story is just above yet another story cataloging the failures of a certain council’s child protection measures. So would these asylum seeking children be safe in Croydon? Perhaps we should sort out our own problems first?
It is clear from the article that central funding cuts were if not at fault a major contributing factor according to Audit. You are right the Council has problems it has to sort out but park the blame for this where it lies, .
You’ve obviously not spoken to social workers about what their jobs have been like over the last ten years, in all specialisms.
Ps, however, this has little to do with the desperate plight of children needing asylum.
We are talking about just 3,000 traumatised children living in tents etc for years on end. This has little to do with 10 years of austerity and under-funding of local government’s ability to deal properly with child care and many other responsibilities. It has more to do, no doubt, with unspoken racism.
Unfortunately it’s not entirely unpredictable, although I doubt Mr Philp has the nous to come up with this decision on his own and is merely enacting the ‘dog whistle’ policies of his senior Minister and her cabinet colleagues, who think it will be welcomed by their core voters, most of whom have no interest in or knowledge of the problem, or of the damage that this sort of silly politicking does to the already tarnished international reputation of the UK. Up the greasy pole he goes, until he looses his grip.
Mr Philp and Ms Patel are wrong with this policy, but it may be more of a point that this is an EU issue now and not the UK. Or not just the UK.
To infer racism would mean this Government intends to discriminate on race grounds against those coming into the Country. Yet if anything the result of this could see the exact opposite, with relations of residents who have already settled here coming in and families being reunited. I suspect it will be used to enable this Government to achieve its immigration targets but again when many of the ones benefiting are from non white developing countries or non white countries at war, Civil or other, its difficult to imply racism.
Callous disregard, a lack of empathy and many other things inc abandonment by parents (in the interests of saving their lives) child trafficking slavery, and some intentional abuse of immigration and Human rights laws as has been shown already. But there is the point here of not 3000 There are 80 Million worldwide (UNHCR statistic) definitely more than this Countries population. So what level is reasonable and humane?
This policy is a political football between all nations of all races and Nationalities. However it is the application of any policy that could discriminate, this at present does not seem to be so even if it has some unpleasant smells coming from it. If anyone has evidence that it is it would be good to see this and then take a challenge against the Policy.
Phucking Philp is just disgusting. And to announce it on the eve of Holocuast Memorial Day is not just insensitive or even merely provocative, it’s a deliberate pandering to the worst of the racists. In a cabinet of evil, Patel stands out.