On Monday night 570 MPs voted on an amendment to the Governments Immigration Bill put forward by Labour Lord Alf Dubs. Quite what happened to the other 80 MPs is worthy of question, clearly some may have abstained but 80 missing votes is a large proportion. Alf Dubs amendment would have provided a UK refuge for 3000 unaccompanied Syrian children. It was clear from the speeches that some of the MPs doubt if our nation of 63M people, the 5th strongest economic power in the world has the resources to offer sanctuary to these children, clearly this presents its own set of questions. Of the votes cast, 294 mostly Conservative MPs voted against the amendment, preventing it from being included in the bill. I am ashamed and angry that our Government which voted on 2nd December to bomb Syria as a matter of urgency, decided on Monday night to turn its back on a small number of children who have fled from the warzone that we have helped to create. Baron Dubs was one of 669 Jewish children rescued from the German holocaust through the efforts of Sir Nicholas Winton. Nicholas Winton died last July and at the time David Cameron tweeted “The world has lost a great man. We must never forget Sir Nicholas Winton’s humanity in saving so many children from the Holocaust.” The Prime Minister and his colleagues have clearly developed an acute sense of amnesia since last July as their votes are counter to the spirit of the work of Sir Nicholas Winton.
I am proud that my MP, Caroline Lucas voted in favour of the amendment, she was joined in her decision by Peter Kyle, MP for Hove but sadly they were the only two Sussex MPs to do so. Two out of three of the Parliamentary votes in our city were cast in favour of Alf Dubs amendment. Sadly the rest of Sussex along with Brighton Kemptown, the constituency represented by Conservative Simon Kirby chose to support the Governments position.
The Sussex MPs who voted against the amendment were:
- Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne)
- Peter Bottomley (West Worthing)
- Maria Caufield (Lewes)
- Nusrat Ghani (Wealden)
- Nick Gibb (Littlehampton)
- Nick Herbert (Arundel)
- Simon Kirby (Brighton Kemptown)
- Tim Loughton (East Worthing)
- Huw Merriman (Bexhill)
- Jeremy Quin (Horsham)
- Amber Rudd (Hastings)
- Henry Smith (Crawley)
- Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex)
- Andrew Tyrie (Chichester)
All 16 Sussex MPs voted on the amendment, yet sadly only 2 represented the views of those of us who wanted the UK to show itself willing to reflect the work of Nicholas Winton and showed themselves willing to take responsibility for the impact of the bombs that Parliament authorised in December.
Although the vote has now taken place, there is still an opportunity for us to register our names in support of the amendment. Alf Dubs has set up a Petition within the Parliamentary system, which is visible to all 650 MPs. When I signed it last night some 5000 other people had already done so. This morning a further 10,000 people have added their names to the list. Perhaps by the end of the month we can get to the 100,000 needed to trigger a formal request for a Parliamentary debate. Maybe by then some of the other 14 MPs will have had a chance to reflect on their actions and considered how they would feel if they were one of the 3000 children far away from a homeland, where bombs were being dropped to give them ‘freedom’.