Petition and Sturgeon letter attack child refugee pledge U-turn

Labour peer Lord Dubs hands in a petition calling on the PM to reconsider the decision to close the 'Dubs' scheme. Picture: PA

Labour peer Lord Dubs hands in a petition calling on the PM to reconsider the decision to close the 'Dubs' scheme. Picture: PA

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Calls for Prime Minister Theresa May to continue providing a safe haven for lone child refugees intensified as a mass petition was handed in to No 10 yesterday.

Labour peer Lord Dubs branded the decision to close a scheme which brought unaccompanied minors to the UK a “very shabby cop-out”.

Flanked by children, politicians and faith leaders, he delivered a 50,000-signature petition to the door of 10 Downing Street.

A storm of criticism has engulfed the government over its decision to scrap the programme, which was expected to facilitate 3,000 vulnerable youngsters.

The petition follows a stinging intervention from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has sent a letter urging the Prime Minister to reverse the “shameful decision” to close the scheme.

In the letter she said: “I find it hard to understand why the UK government would even consider the inhumane withdrawal of essential routes to safety for such a vulnerable group of children.”

Former refugee Lord Dubs originally strong-armed the commitment from Whitehall by adding an amendment to the Immigration Act in 2016, known as the Dubs amendment.

But despite the expected influx of thousands, ministers provoked fury by putting brakes on the scheme after 150 children joined the 200 who have already arrived on British soil.

A Home Office spokesman said the government was “clear that behind these numbers are children” but that it needed to strike a balance between accepting minors and making sure that local councils can support them.

A handful of local authority leaders roundly rejected this claim yesterday afternoon – saying they were more than ready to accept more children.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby has warned that halting the initiative would see more children being trafficked, exploited and killed.

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