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As Tories retreat on refugees – push to let more in

This article is over 8 years, 1 months old
Anti-racists scored a victory last week—but the Tories are still on the attack, reports Dave Sewell
Issue 2503
A stark message in the Calais camp
A stark message in the Calais camp (Pic: Sara Tomlinson)

The government grudgingly accepted an amendment on child refugees into its Immigration Bill on Monday as news broke of the latest death at Britain’s border.

A Pakistani migrant was run over by a car while trying to enter a lorry out of the French port of Calais on Sunday night. He was the fifth migrant in just three months to die in Calais or Dunkirk.

Thousands of people are stranded in horrific conditions in refugee camps in northern France because the Tories won’t let them into Britain. These include hundreds of unaccompanied children.

Under pressure, David Cameron backed down on his opposition to taking in child refugees stranded in Europe.

Labour peer Alf Dubs originally moved the amendment in the House of Lords. Dubs told Socialist Worker, “I’m very pleased. The government has conceded to popular pressure.”

The amendment originally called for Britain to take in 3,000 children.

The government shot that down in the House of Commons. But Dubs moved a new version that would allow the number to be determined by local authorities.

Facing anger from anti-racists, a rare show of unity from Labour, and the threat of a Tory rebellion, Cameron was forced to accept it.

Dubs said, “I hope it augurs well for refugee children in Europe. I’m hoping the whole thing will make refugees less of a dirty word—I don’t like the way refugees are stigmatised in the press.


“I hope the public will come around to supporting refugees and this amendment can be part of that.”

It’s an important victory and shows it’s possible to resist. But the fight is still on to get children brought to Britain—let alone to get more refugees, including adults, allowed in.

And the Immigration Bill remains a vicious and discriminatory attack on migrant workers. It would restrict access to services and housing.

Activists, trade unionists and Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) groups across Britain are preparing for a mass solidarity convoy to Calais on Saturday 18 June.

Some 40 people attended a SUTR organising meeting in Manchester last week, many representing trade union branches. And the local TUC sponsored a small SUTR meeting in Dorchester, Dorset, last Saturday.

A dozen people attended including trade unionists, newly elected Labour councillor Tia Roos and Mark Gage, who is volunteering in Calais next week.

Dubs has joined the line-up of a SUTR rally in London on Wednesday 25 May. Trade unionists across Britain are raising the convoy in their union branches.

Mark Sage from the Unison branch in Portsmouth told Socialist Worker, “We put a motion based on the one on the SUTR website to the branch committee and initially asked for £100.

“The branch committee accepted it unanimously, but decided to give £150 instead.”

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