Yesterday the UK government snuck out the news that it is ditching its scheme to resettle unaccompanied child refugees from across Europe -something which they only introduced last year following huge pressure from the public, SNP MPs in parliament and the Scottish Government.
But they haven’t just ditched their promise, they have only accepted 350 out of an estimated 90,000 unaccompanied child refugees across Europe. This is an abject moral failure by Theresa May and a dereliction of duty on the part of this UK government – showing callous disregard for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Given the scale of the humanitarian crisis, and the comparative efforts of other countries, the UK government must significantly step up – not close down – its refugee resettlement efforts.
For the UK government to now go back on its word, and end this key route prematurely, only further compounds the shameful behaviour of Theresa May and her Tory ministers throughout the Syrian refugee crisis.
In comparison, on the same day the UK government made this decision, the Scottish Government announced its new £161,692 Refugee Doctors Project. This scheme will support medically trained and qualified refugees to re-enter the medical profession in Scotland, helping them achieve medical registration and contribute their skills to NHS Scotland.
The SNP have said time and again that Scotland stands ready to do its bit – we have already welcomed well above our population share of those Syrian refugees resettled in the UK and we are willing to do more, but the UK government cannot shirk its responsibilities.
The UK government’s efforts on resettling refugees has been pathetic and brings shame to a country with a proud tradition of accepting refugees – it is time for the Prime Minister to show some real leadership.
We cannot sit idly by and abandon people who need our help – we must accept more refugees. The choice now lies in Theresa May’s hands, and a failure to u-turn on this disgraceful decision will leave a stain on her premiership for years to come.
– Stuart McDonald is SNP MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East and Westminster Spokesperson for Immigration, Asylum and Border Control.