Synagogues in London have praised Labour peer Lord Dubs for forcing the government to bring unaccompanied refugee children to safety in the UK, after the House of Lords voted for his call to maintain EU laws doing so.
Dubs, himself a child refugee who fled the Nazis on the Kindertransport in 1939, tabled a Brexit bill amendment on Monday night to maintain the government’s responsibility to offer sanctuary after it leaves the European Union next year.
In a defeat for the government, Lords voted 205 to 181 for the so-called Dubs’s amendment, forcing ministers to retain parts of the EU’s Dublin Regulation which allows for those seeking asylum to join family members in the UK.
The 85-year old said the government’s conduct towards the Windrush generation had been “shameful” and that his amendment would guard against “cold indifference” when it came to children fleeing conflict.
Obligations to reunite children with family members currently fall under the Dublin III EU Regulation which had been due to end in March when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.
“If the government is serious about righting its wrongs – and not just looking for an easy sticking plaster – it should accept my amendment so that families who have fled war can be together,” Dubs said.
He told Lords that the legislation was “the main existing legal routes to safety for unaccompanied child refugees,” adding: “In its absence, people traffickers have a field day.”
Earlier, at Kingston Liberal Synagogue, where Dubs addressed members, Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel said: “Because of Brexit, our Government could be closing a vital route for child refugees in Europe to reach Britain. We need to do all we can to prevent that.”