Opinion: Britain must remain a refuge for the world’s oppressed

PUBLISHED: 08:30 08 February 2020

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq. Picture: Chris McAndrew/Creative Commons

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq. Picture: Chris McAndrew/Creative Commons


In a week when commemorations marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sir Nicholas Winton was trending on social media.

A video featured footage from a 1988 episode of That's Life!, with Sir Nicholas in the audience. Few knew about what Mr Winton had done nearly 50 years previously except those who surrounded him in that television studio.

Born in Hampstead, Sir Nicholas organised the "Kindertransport" which saw 669 mostly Jewish children smuggled by train out of Czechoslovakia to the safety of Britain in 1939. In the video, when asked to stand up if they owed their lives to Winton's actions, the whole audience rose to their feet.

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The Kindertransport was a breathtaking humanitarian act and serves as a reminder of our country's proud history as a haven for the world's persecuted.

One of the children who made it to Britain was Alf - now Lord - Dubs. He would become the Labour member of parliament for Battersea and has campaigned for the rights of refugees. During the European migration crisis, with millions displaced by war, Lord Dubs sponsored a successful amendment to the Immigration Act which compelled the government to take in thousands of child refugees.

With Brexit questioning Britain's role in the world, the withdrawal agreement bill had rightly included commitments to family reunion rights for child refugees. Sadly, after parliament returned after the election, the clause was removed by the government. Despite Keir Starmer and Lord Dubs appealing directly to Tory MPs to vote in favour of the amendment, it failed to pass.

As your MP, I recognise the need for our country to live up to its moral and legal obligations; that's why I voted for the Dubs amendment last week. In the coming months, I will continue to argue that Britain must remain a refuge for the world's oppressed.

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