The daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton has urged Theresa May to accept more child refugees before she leaves office, after the PM evoked the Holocaust hero in her resignation speech.
Barbara Winton called on the PM meet the quota of 480 child migrants as put forward by Lord Alf Dubs, a Kindertransport refugee, in an amendment tabled in 2016 but scrapped under Mrs May in 2017.
She said it was a “great surprise” to hear the prime minister quoting her father, dubbed the British Schindler, who was Mrs May’s constituent in Maidenhead, during her speech on the steps of 10 Downing Street on Friday.
The PM movingly recalled meeting Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of 669 mainly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Europe on the eve on the Holocaust.
She quoted Mr Winton, saying he told her “compromise is not a dirty word”, which his daughter said was in reference to the formation of the coalition government in 2010.
She said her father “believed it was a decent way to do politics”, and that “he was very prone to talking to people about the need for ethics and for compromise in public life.”
Barbara said she remembered her father “saying that it had got to the point that when she [Theresa May] met him at an event – the first thing she would say to him is ‘ethics and compromise’, so he obviously mentioned it on several occasions to her.”
However, following May’s resignation speech, Lord Dubs, who was rescued from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1938 with the Kindertransport, took to Twitter to criticise her.
He said: “Nicky Winton did not compromise. He was resolute in his determination to save refugee children like me. I hope that before she steps down @theresa_may will honour Nicky’s memory by welcoming more unaccompanied refugee children from France, Italy and Greece.”
Echoing Lord Dubs’ call for more action on the issue, Barbara Winton, who has campaigned for child refugees, said “obviously, what I would like to see at the very least, is the Dubs amendment quota – which the government put a very arbitrary and low level on of 480 refugee children from Europe being brought to Britain, and I think there are around 220 who’ve arrived”.
“Especially as she [Theresa May] has shown on multiple occasions her respect and admiration for my father.. it would be a very nice thing for her to do at this stage”.
She also urged the government to agree to continue a resettlement which it has run for three years, which “has been pretty successful, and refugees who have come on that have been helped and integrated successfully.”
“I think if that was to continue it would be a wonderful legacy, especially as it involves children”.