Dan Peacock

Naked Politics Blogger 

In the 19th chapter of the gospel of Matthew, it reads: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom belongs to such as these. Last week, the Cabinet Office confirmed that that the ‘kingdom’ in question is not the United Kingdom.

Theological facetiousness aside, two weeks ago we witnessed the latest display of indifference on behalf of the UK government to the European migrant crisis. In short, the ‘Dubs’ amendment is an addition –  introduced by Baron Alf Dubs who was a beneficiary of the famous Kindertransport during the Second World War – to the Immigration Bill of 2016. The amendment stipulates that the UK will provide safe passage and accommodation to unaccompanied refugee children in Europe. The original suggestion was that councils across the UK had the capacity to take in approximately 3,000 children, a figure that at the time was considered quite conservative.

Two weeks ago, the government announced that this programme will be disbanded after a certain quota of children is reached.

The figure is question is 350.

The government has defended this by stating that if we take any more than this number, it will encourage more children to make the dangerous journey across Europe to the UK, thus making them at greater risk to exploitation by traffickers.

Nonsense. Utter nonsense.

The UK’s closed drawbridge approach to refugees has not stopped thousands of people queueing at the nation’s gates at Calais, or stopped hundreds of thousands more making the initial journey into Europe. What makes the 90,000 unaccompanied refugee children in Europe vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers is the fact that they unaccompanied children. And what draws them to the UK and Europe is the fact that the UK and Europe is not the deadliest conflict zone since the Second World War, and moreover the fact that many have families here waiting for them. I mean how dare they want a better life in a safe, prosperous country.

The government’s attempts to explain away this outright betrayal as some sort of ethical necessity are utterly fatuous. They are nothing but platitudes designed to mask the now clear fact that this government’s moral compass has ossified beyond repair when it comes to the basic human faculty for loving one’s neighbour. This decision is simply indefensible and constitutes one of the most shameful acts I have seen from a British government – an institution which, for those who care to remember, has a proud record of opening its doors to strangers in need. These are children for crying out loud. It is heartbreaking.

But just why does this government continuously show such gross neglect when it comes to refugees? I just don’t get it. Whereas other great, industrial European nations house hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, the UK refuses to even to meet its own pitiful targets that can’t even be considered the bare minimum. Is it apathy? Contempt? Fear? I simply do not know. It certainly isn’t lack of capacity or room at the inn; that is pure dribble.

All I know, is that the history books will not look kindly upon Theresa May and her administration unless they undertake a radical change of mindset when it comes to this issue. This latest U-turn will surely go down as one of the most astonishing moral failings by a UK government. Unless Theresa May reconsiders her entire policy on refugees, the history books written about her in the future will be located on the same shelves as books as Donald Trump’s. Time is running out before the UK’s international reputation is permanently stained by this heinous attitude towards the refugee crisis.

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Last Update: April 27, 2018