Yvette Cooper MP

Working hard for Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford & Knottingley

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**CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY**

Britain is in a political crisis.

We are still coming to terms with the sheer enormity of the referendum decision

And the country is divided.

Some people are delighted, some distressed, some in doubt.

Europhiles think we are weaker, poorer out. Eurosceptics think we’ve taken back control.

Teenagers think their future has been taken away from them. But many people think they have seized their destiny back.

We’re in a new world. Only we don’t really know what it is.

Our constitution, our international role, our United Kingdom.

Our economy, our borders, our sense of identity, all up in the air.

And there have been some serious immediate developments since the result. The pound has plummeted, shares have fallen and foreign investors are pulling out.

Hate crime reports to the police have shot up by over 50% since the result

Polish families getting messages through their letter box calling them vermin

Muslim women told “We voted you out, why are you still here”

No one knows quite what lies ahead

These are difficult and dangerous waters

Yet there is no plan.

Not from the Leave campaigners

Not from the Government

Not from the Conservative Party

Not from the Labour Party

Only Nicola Sturgeon has a sort of plan – and that is unlikely to be one that pulls Britain together.

From the Prime Minister all we get is a unit of civil servants and the reassuring news that Oliver Letwin is in charge

From my party, Jeremy Corbyn cannot even fill a Shadow Front Bench to respond. No alternative Government. No alternative plan.

And from Boris Johnson, the front-runner to be the next Prime Minister, each day a different flip, a different flop as he changes his message for a different audience.

There is a political vacuum just when political leadership is needed most

***

At a time like this we need some maturity from our politics and our politicians and we are getting the opposite.

And it’s about to get worse. The post referendum political process we are becoming trapped in is failing our country.

Right now we have big choices - hard choices - to make as a country

Britain has made a decision to leave the European Union

But we have made no decision at all about what kind of country we are going to be next

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get on with it because there is so much at stake.

It isn’t enough to keep re-running the arguments of the referendum – grieving on one side, or still dreaming on the other. Its real now.

The country has spoken and we have a responsibility to try to make this work.

That is in our hands. It is the most important thing our generation now must do and will have consequences for generations to come.

To forge a new relationship with Europe as we build a new consensus about the kind of country we are going to be

      ***

First we have to reflect on why this happened

The cities voted in. Industrial towns voted out. Digital growth areas like the M4 corridor or the University towns voted in. The Tory shires and the Labour coalfields voted out. Scotland voted in. England and Wales voted out. The young voted in. Older votes chose out. Graduates in. Working class communities out.

Those who saw globalisation as an opportunity voted in

Those who felt globalisation was a threat and didn’t trust “the system” to make it better voted out

The woman on Thursday who told me she was voting out because “well they all deserve a kick”

The man on Friday who told me how pleased he was that Britain was finally standing up for itself again.

Communities who didn’t believe the Remain campaigns arguments about risk because they didn’t feel they had much more to lose.

People who said they didn’t believe “experts”, because too often experts have let them down

Places that that people too often feel no longer have a purpose. Because the jobs have gone to the cities and shops to out of town malls

A Tory Prime Minister could not persuade them. Because a Tory government has let them down.

But Labour had nothing to say that could convince them either.

They weren’t convinced by staying in Europe because they couldn’t see how they benefited

And yes, lots of people were really worried about immigration.

As for Boris Johnson’s could claim yesterday he didn’t believe people were driven by anxiety about immigration.

If he didn’t believe it why did his campaign deliberately play on people’s anxiety every single day.

The posters on Turkey. The daily press releases about foreign criminals or migrants using the NHS. The leaflets. The interviews.

David Cameron’s approach was no better.

He refused to talk about it. For years he has ramped up the rhetoric. For years he has made promises. Then suddenly he refused to talk about it at all. No wonder people got crosser and crosser.

It’s the most sensitive issue of all. Yet we’ve had screaming on one side, silence on the other.

We are here without a plan because politics has failed.

Because our political process just couldn’t deal with the difficult issues so they got worse

Because too many of our politicians couldn’t work out how to solve problems so they made false promise or just walked away

Because too many towns feel they have no future

Because immigration seemed too hard to solve

Because the EU seemed too hard to reform

Because inequality is still rising and it seemed too hard to stop

Because we weren’t prepared to take action to sort out housing

Because trust collapsed

And with every layer of failure, politics just made it worse.

***

So we need some big changes in our politics

Too many politicians have been promoting division, playing games with fear and anxiety rather than providing sensible answers instead – and that is dangerous.

They have set a climate in which extremists can exploit the result.

Teachers are reporting that pupils are spouting race hate in the classroom

Social media abuse and racist death threats have gone up

People in Britain in our tolerant and diverse Britain, are now feeling fearful for their safety because of their nationality or the colour of their skin

We have to stop this now.

It is deeply dangerous.

This is not the kind of country we want to be

It is also not what Britain voted for last week

This is not what millions of Leave voters want.

The Prime Minister was right to condemn this and promise the police the resources they need to respond. But every one of us needs to speak out against this.

Campaigners like Nigel Farage who tried to poison the referendum debate with posters fuelling hatred towards refugees or Michael Gove with his lies on Turkey need now to search their souls and speak out loudly to condemn this violence and hatred.

Nor can we sustain a politics based on more false promises.

Before the referendum Nigel Farage said £55m a day for hospitals and schools. After he said it was ‘a mistake’

Before the referendum they said £350 million a week extra for the NHS. Now Ian Duncan Smith says he never “said it”

Yet it was on the side of their bus.

Week after week of promising more controls on immigration

Now Daniel Hannan says free movement’s here to stay

Before the referendum Boris Johnson promised big changes to free movement.

Now he says Brits will still have all the same freedoms to live, work and travel in Europe.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have already fought one vote on one set of false promises. For the referendum itself.

They are about to do the same again for another vote on another set of false promises. This time for the keys to Number 10

And they may well then do it a third time in a General Election

But all of it is fantasy. None of it is about the reality of the negotiations Britain now needs with the EU on what our relationship will be, or what kind of country we choose to be outside the EU

None of it is about the real hard choices our country now needs to make about who we are.

That’s not just dishonest it is dangerous.

But Labour needs to change too.

And at a time when the world has changed, when an election is looming, I am very concerned that Jeremy Corbyn has no plan to re-unite the Labour movement, no plan to respond to the deep and serious issues the referendum has thrown up, and no plan for a looming General Election.

We have a huge task to reunite Leave and Remain Labour voters and supporters in a progressive vision of Britain’s future.

Just as the country is divided between city and town over the referendum, a gulf is growing between Labour’s support in the cities and the Midlands and Northern industrial towns that have long been our heartlands.

Our party is in danger of becoming a party of the Cities and University towns

Labour votes in the cities who voted in must not push away the Labour voters in the town who voted out. They are not right wing. And they are waiting for us to stand up for them.

I got to know Jeremy last year and I always found him a kind, friendly man. He won well and he has brought more people into the party. He did not lose the referendum – the Prime Minister lost the referendum he called. But Jeremy did not show he had any of the campaigning zeal our Party needs in a tough fight.

But he is losing us Labour support across the country – and particularly in the towns and coalfields that built the labour movement in the first place.

Jeremy would be letting down Labour voters and communities across the country who badly need a strong Labour voice right now, and who badly need a Labour government, if he drags this out any longer.  I hope he does the right thing in the party and stands down swiftly because we cannot drift and leave Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Ian Duncan Smith to shape Britain’s future.

***

We need our politicians and parties to get a grip.

Because there are big, hard choices about the kind of future we now build.

We need a proper plan and a process for what happens next.

And everyone needs a say – those who voted to leave and those who voted to stay – in what kind of country we become now

The Prime Minister was right not to trigger Article 50 straight away. Move too fast and we will give the EU the upper negotiating hand.

But he was wrong not to set out a proper process for debate and decisions to be made.

The Letwin unit is laughably inadequate.

Our negotiating strategy is going to end up being determined by an arms race of pledges in the Tory leadership race.

That’s not on.

This is far too important for that.

The Prime Minister should establish a cross party joint committee of both houses of Parliament to oversee the options and negotiating strategy that is drawn up. It should include those who supported Leave and those who supported Remain.

And there needs to be direct access for the Opposition to civil servants now too. The leading Tory party contender has said he is considering an General Election. The Prime Minister has accepted there may be a case for an early General Election, that may be only 4 months away.

I am therefore writing to Jeremy Heywood the Cabinet Secretary to ask him to trigger the process for access talks for opposition parties.  

And we need to start debating now some of the serious issues that need to be resolved.

On trade

On immigration

On contributions

On security

On foreign policy

We’ve heard different right wing visions from the right of what Britain outside Europe looks like.

Libertarians who see this as a way to roll back all state involvement. Free marketeers who see it as a way to cut employment protection. Reactionary conservatives who want to cut themselves off from the rest of the world.

But none of those right wing visions will work for Britain.

Labour should be opposing the libertarianism of campaigners like Dominic Raab who would keep us out of things like the European Arrest Warrant or Europol. In or out of the EU, we badly need that security cooperation that keeps us safe.

Labour must campaign strongly against the calls by Tories like Priti Patel who want a bonfire of workers rights. Labour should be pressing now for the rights that are based on European legislation to be swiftly embedded in UK law

The leaders of the campaign to leave may be right wingers who made false promises.

Most of those who voted to leave in good faith really are not.

We may no longer be in the EU, but they are still our closest friends and neighbours, our biggest and nearest customers. And they should still be our partners on the world stage.

We need to build a progressive, outward-looking Labour vision of Britain’s future alongside the EU – a new “special relationship” with our European partners underpinned by Labour values – social solidarity, equality, social justice and human rights.

That means we also have to do the best deal we can for jobs and economic growth,

And we know the real challenge is getting a deal on trade and free movement.

And here’s where it gets really hard. Access to the single market is vital for so many jobs.

We want no tariffs on our car industry

Access to the single market for our service sector

Passporting rights for our financial services

We want it all, but its going to be a tough diplomatic challenge to get it.

And most sensitive of all, we need a plan for immigration.

I argued for reform of free movement if we stayed in the EU. And while access to the single market is vital, there is no doubt that Britain outside the EU will not support full free movement of unskilled workers.

But heres the problem. We know there is strong support for immigration reform. But there is no consensus on what the new framework should be.

And our community cohesion cannot cope with more games on this. No more false promises. No more ramping up the rhetoric. No more sheepish silence. No more Boris flip flops. No more Farage inflaming things.

This will need careful diplomacy and negotiations in Europe.

But alongside here at home, we need a National Commission on Immigration charged with building a consensus across the country – drawing together faith leaders, community leaders, trades unions, employers, the voice of the small towns and the big cities. We have to face this. Britain has benefited for Centuries from people coming here from abroad. We need international talent and ideas. But we also need a system that is fair and has public consent. Or the divisions will grow and extremists will be able to exploit them.

We need a comprehensive plan on immigration – from border controls to employment rules, to community cohesion. It needs to be transparent and it needs public consent. Or whatever happens over Europe and the negotiations we will have serious problems for decades to come.

We have a choice.

Whether Britain outside the EU chooses to be a fair, outward looking country, tolerant, diverse, narrowing inequalities, standing up for social justice, that works with our partners and trades with the world

Or whether we turn inwards and rightwards. Turning on each other. Legitimising extremism. Sneering at each other. Cutting back the social solidarity or shared faith in our common humanity, where inequalities widen and those with least are hardest hit.

It’s in our hands and it is urgent.

Politics has to rise to the challenge

And Labour has to rise to the challenge too

Thank you

 

ENDS

Yvette's speech to the Centre for European Reform

**CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY** Britain is in a political crisis. We are still coming to terms with the sheer enormity of the referendum decision And the country is divided. Some people...

Local MP Yvette Cooper has condemned the cuts in neurology services in Wakefield District that are hitting patients with serious conditions including Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Cranial Hypertension.

In a letter from Mid-Yorkshire Health Trust, local health bosses have confirmed that five of the eight specialist neurology staff have left the Trust and not been replaced.

That means patients with Parkinson’s, dizziness and balance and motor neurone disease are being forced to travel to Leeds, Sheffield or Hull for appointments. 

And patients needing the neurology service for treatments such as multiple sclerosis may have to wait longer for appointments.

Yvette Cooper, commenting on the changes said: 

"More and more precious NHS services are being cut from our area and patients are losing out. Patients with conditions such as MS are waiting far too long for an appointments and patients with Parkinson’s are now having to travel far further to get the care they need. It is a bad reflection on Mid Yorkshire Trust that they lost so many medical experts all at once. And it's an even worse reflection on the Government’s health policy that they can't recruit new staff to replace them. There is a growing NHS staff crisis across the country. And patients are losing out. Where will this end? How many more services are we going to lose before the Government makes sure there are enough doctors and nurses? 

“No one doubts the hard work and dedication of staff working in the NHS – they look after us at some of the most vulnerable points in our lives and deserve all the praise in the world. But there just aren't enough of them. The Government need to get a grip and sort out this mess urgently.”

 

ENDS

Yvette slams service changes at Mid-Yorkshire

Local MP Yvette Cooper has condemned the cuts in neurology services in Wakefield District that are hitting patients with serious conditions including Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Cranial Hypertension.

Anyone who thought the nasty party was dead has been proved wrong by Zac Goldsmith’s desperate campaign for the London Mayoralty.

Rather than try to persuade Londoners with a positive vision, the Goldsmith campaign is increasingly resorting to disgraceful, divisive tactics as the polls show the Tories falling further behind.

With each day, the smears and innuendoes get louder. It’s no longer just Zac Goldsmith’s own leaflets, briefings and clumsy attacks.

Now the Cabinet is joining in, trying different ways to link Sadiq to Islamist extremism based on no evidence at all.

When it doesn’t work, they just become ever more shrill.

We can’t let this go by – it’s time to call it out for what it really is before it gets worse. What started as a subtle dog-whistle is becoming a full blown racist scream.

Sadiq is a mainstream British Muslim who has spent his whole life fighting extremism, and he’s paid a heavy personal price for it.

He had death threats from extremists when he voted for same sex marriage – and had to discuss police protection with his young daughters.

He had extremists come to his local Mosque to protest, telling the congregation – his friends and neighbours – that he will go to hell because he believes in democracy, as will anyone who votes for him.

But despite all that, he’s bravely put his pledge to be ‘the British Muslim who’ll take on the extremists’ at the very centre of his campaign, with real plans to take on the extremists and tackle radicalisation, showing the kind of leadership and willingness to speak out that we need.

He’s been a strong voice against antisemitism. And over many years working with him on crime and security policies, I’ve seen his determination to keep Londoners safe.

Yet that’s what makes Goldsmith’s campaign even more appalling – they aren’t just attacking Sadiq, they are trying to undermine the very values we need to defeat extremism too.

They’ve sent leaflets to British Hindus with the outrageous claim that Sadiq wants to take their family jewellery.

Other leaflets call him “dangerous” and “a radical” in the hope that if they whistle the words often enough voters will start worrying about radicalisation instead.

Michael Fallon has attacked Sadiq as a “Labour lackey” who supports extremists. And in the last few days we’ve seen Michael Gove, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson each try to link Sadiq in people’s minds with Islamist extremism in different and deeply dodgy ways.

It’s the campaigning equivalent of pointing and shouting ‘don’t vote for him, he’s a Muslim’ – a nasty approach straight from the Lynton Crosby playbook.

Plenty of sensible Tories have been appalled. Baroness Warsi tweeted: “If Sadiq Khan isn’t an acceptable enough Muslim 2 stand for London mayor, which Muslim is?”

Shazia Awan, a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate described the Tory campaign as “‘divisive’, ‘colonial’, ‘sectarian’ and the return of the ‘nasty party”.

Binita Mehta, Conservative Group Leader at Watford Council, told the Telegraph: “This reckless approach needs to be confronted before we compromise our hard work thus far to win over ‘BME’ voters”.

Meanwhile, Simon Wooley, director of the independent Operation Black Vote described Goldsmith’s campaign as “the politics of division” and scathingly added: “This is not Donald Trump land where communities are pitted one against the other for political gain. This is London where we are proud of our diversity and…. we do get on with each other”.

I am sure that London will reject Goldsmith’s divisive campaign. London’s greatest strength is the respect and tolerance diverse communities have for one another.

You just have to look at the amazing response Sadiq is receiving from London’s Jewish community to see that the politics of division are not going to work here.

But Goldsmith’s campaign could still cause long lasting damage to the fabric of London life – a generation of young ethnic minority Londoners are looking at this campaign and thinking “that could be me” if they stick their head above the parapet.

Divisive campaigning drives rifts between communities. It says that if you are a mainstream Muslim who rejects extremism and abhors violence, you are still liable to be attacked by Tories as a threat to security.

It undermines those standing up against extremism and makes it easier for extremists to spread their hatred. In short, Zac Goldsmith’s campaign isnt’t just unpleasant, it is irresponsible and dangerous.

This election is now bigger than tribal party politics. It’s about the basic decency, humanity and tolerance of our capital city.

I hope Londoners who normally vote for the Tories will reject this nasty campaign, send a message that the city is better than this, and vote for Sadiq Khan. Now more than ever we need the Mayor for all Londoners that Sadiq will be.

Yvette's article for The Times - Zac Goldsmith’s dog-whistle is becoming a racist scream

Anyone who thought the nasty party was dead has been proved wrong by Zac Goldsmith’s desperate campaign for the London Mayoralty.


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Recent Refugee Taskforce

Yvette Cooper MP, Chair of Labour’s Refugee Taskforce, writes to the PM on setting a milestone for resettling unaccompanied child refugees

Ahead of the debate on the Government’s announcement on resettling lone child refugees in the Immigration Bill today, Yvette Cooper Chair of Labour’s Refugee Taskforce has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to commit to swift action to help hundreds of children this summer so they can get into school by the beginning of the Autumn term.

Many lone child refugees, particularly those from Syria have not been in school for years. The letter joins the calls from faith leaders today for the Government to ensure children helped by the new scheme are able to enter school as soon as possible.

She is also calling for more detail on how the new commitment will be implemented to make sure it delivers on the spirit of the Dubs amendment in practice.

***

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street

London

SW1A 2AA

 

9th May, 2016

 

Dear Prime Minister,

Can I welcome your decision to accept Lord Alf Dubs amendment, and the principle that Britain should do its bit to help child refugees who are on their own and at great risk in Greece, Italy and France.

I am glad that the Government has listened to the cross party support, and the many organisations who have been campaigning on this and who are very keen to work with the Government to put this commitment into practice. Last week in Athens I met with Greek Ministers who told me that resettling lone child refugees was vital to ensure their safety.

UNICEF and Save the Children estimate that well over 1,000 children in Greece are not in proper accommodation because children’s homes are full and are either alone in makeshift camps, sleeping rough or even being kept in detention.

I have met many children and teenagers living in squalid conditions in makeshift camps, children who have been trafficked, and who are at serious risk of abuse and violence. In Calais, I have have met children of 11 and 12 years old who have family here in Britain that could look after them, but who have been waiting for months alone because of Government bureaucracy.

The decision to resettle some of these children is a life changing one and I wholeheartedly applaud this change of heart from the Government.

However, we must now make sure this commitment is delivered in practice. We therefore want to know further information from the Government about the practical steps and milestones needed to make sure that a significant number of children and teenagers can very swiftly be given sanctuary here.

Senior faith leaders including the former Archbishop of Canterbury have today called for all children in Calais with valid legal claims to be reunited swiftly with family in Britain, and 300 of the most at risk unaccompanied children in Greece and Italy to be brought to Britain by the start of the new school year in September.

This would be an important early milestone and would show the Government's commitment to swift progress so children aren't caught up in more bureaucratic delays. Can I urge you to commit to this plan to make sure children are swiftly helped and that we get them back into school and the education they need as fast as possible.

The Government has shown with the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme that, by working with local authorities, and providing the extra support needed, we can move quickly to resettle vulnerable refugees. And I pay tribute to the work of Minister for Syrian Refugees Richard Harrington in this.

Can you give a commitment that the Government will work with the LGA in a similar way to provide the additional support needed for specifically to help arriving child refugees, to make sure that local authorities are actually able to provide places in practice?

The LGA have made clear they are keen to help, but it is important that they are given the support they need and that children are relocated across the country, rather than putting pressure on a small number of local authorities.

 

Please can you also provide us with more details of the funding that will be  need much more detail about the funding that in place for local authorities to properly support these children’s needs, as well as the process for identifying children to be resettled to the UK?

Other organisations, including faith groups and charities have also offered to help. As you may be aware, independent schools have already offered to make available 80 funded places to child refugees, indeed I have been contacted directly by schools wanting to help. Can I urge the Government to urgently work with wider organisations to see what additional support they can give to maximise the number of children and teenagers we can help.

These children haven’t been in school for many months, some many years. Resettling 300 of the most vulnerable child refugees from Europe in time for the start of the new school year, as well as expediting the cases of the children in Calais is the minimum we should be doing and I urge you to listen to the call from faith leaders and make this commitment today.

Tonight thousands of child refugees will sleep rough and in makeshift camps across Europe, on their own, I urge you to act swiftly to deliver on your commitment to resettle some of those children and teenagers as swiftly as possible so that we don't leave them at risk any longer.

 

Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP

Chair of Labour’s Refugee Taskforce

Letter to the Prime Minister on setting a milestone for delivery of child refugees commitment

Yvette Cooper MP, Chair of Labour’s Refugee Taskforce, writes to the PM on setting a milestone for resettling unaccompanied child refugees Ahead of the debate on the Government’s announcement on...

Responding to the Government re-announcement on resettling child refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, Yvette Cooper, Chair of the Refugee Taskforce said:

“This is the same announcement as the Government made back in January and includes nothing new to help the thousands of child refugees alone in Europe who are at risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. It doesn't address the crisis within Europe and I hope MPs of all parties will back Alf Dubs amendment on Monday. 

“As we said at the time, we welcome vital support for children and families at risk in the Middle East and North Africa, but we also cannot turn our backs on the thousands of children who are going missing in Europe because children's homes in Italy and Greece are full, and other countries can't cope with this crisis alone.

“It seems the Government has made this re-announcement because they are under pressure over the vote on Monday. But it is disappointing that they haven’t listened to our call for them to help children in Europe. They are ignoring the whole point of the amendment which was for Britain to do its bit and help 3,000 of the 95,000 unaccompanied children who have arrived in Europe. Many of these children even have family here in Britain who could care for them but there was also nothing new in this announcement to sort out the appalling failures in the family reunification system either.

“Children are risking their lives every day making dangerous journeys, and Europol estimate at least 10,000 children have disappeared in the crisis, many trafficked into prostitution and modern slavery. Many children are sleeping rough or in makeshift camps because children's homes are full, and many have been sexually abused and exploited too.

“Britain must not stand by when so many children are at risk on our doorstep. We must listen to the calls of Kindertransport survivors who ask that Britain show the same values today as we did decades ago, and vote on Monday to help 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees at risk in Europe.”

ENDS

 

Notes:

In January under pressure of a defeat in the Lords, the Government announced they would resettle unaccompanied children from the Middle East and North Africa:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-01-28/HCWS497/

Yvette's response to the Government re-announcement on resettling child refugees from the Middle East and North Africa

Responding to the Government re-announcement on resettling child refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, Yvette Cooper, Chair of the Refugee Taskforce said:

Yvette Cooper, Chair of Labour’s Refugee Taskforce, has written to the Prime Minister following his comments on unaccompanied child refugees in Calais at the Franco-British Summit:

3rd March, 2016

 

Dear Prime Minister,

This afternoon at the press conference with President Hollande after the Franco-British Summit you said that lone child refugees with family in Britain can apply to join their family here, under the Dublin convention.

However this is not happening in practice and urgent action is needed by the British and French Governments to protect these extremely vulnerable children and teenagers from criminal gangs, prostitution, trafficking and abuse.

Charities have said that it is currently taking 9 months for a ‘take charge’ request to be processed. Can you tell me why it is taking this long and what these vulnerable refugees are supposed to do in the meantime?

Charities have also said that so far Britain has not accepted a single ‘take charge’ request involving unaccompanied minors in Calais, and in the past few weeks have rejected two such requests.

Is this true? Given your commitment today to implement the Dublin Agreement how can the Government justify not accepting any requests at all? Can you urgently review the Home Office handling of these take charge applications so that young refugees with relatives who can protect them can get urgent help?

Furthermore, the Government is appealing the ruling from the Upper Tribunal that three unaccompanied children and a mentally ill sibling be allowed to travel to Britain immediately to be in the care of their close relatives while they apply for asylum, rather than wait in the Calais camp with no one looking after their welfare.

Given the extreme vulnerability of these unaccompanied child refugees, why is the Government still appealing against the ruling? And will the Government now drop its appeal against the Upper Tribunal ruling and do everything it can now to work with the French authorities to fast-track the cases of unaccompanied children with family here?

Charities in Calais estimate there are some 150 lone children in Calais who have family here in Britain who could look after them while their asylum claim is being processed.

In January you announced that £10m would be made available specifically for the identification of unaccompanied children in Europe who could be reunited with family, and as you know that was welcomed as a step forward.

Since this announcement, how many children in Calais have been identified? And what discussions have taken place with Citizens UK, Save the Children and Help Refugees, working in Calais to help reunite them with their family as soon as possible?

These children, some as young as 11 and 12, are alone and at terrible risk. According to Europol some 10,000 lone child refugees have simply disappeared in Europe in this crisis.

You and I both have children of a similar age. None of us would conscience our own children living alone in these conditions. Nor would we want them to be vulnerable to abuse, gangs or prostitution. We have a moral duty not to turn our backs on them now, especially when they have relatives ready to keep them safe.

Both you and the French President have rightly recognised that these vulnerable children and teenagers need help, and where they have family in Britain who can look after them they should be reunited.

However both the British and French bureaucracies are badly failing these children now. It is shameful that our two proud countries are proving incapable of sorting this out when so much is at stake. I urge you to end the foot dragging and make sure there is urgent action between both Governments to rescue these children before more of them simply disappear.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Rt. Hon Yvette Cooper MP

Chair of Labour’s Refugee Taskforce

Yvette Cooper letter to David Cameron following comments on child refugees in Calais

Yvette Cooper, Chair of Labour’s Refugee Taskforce, has written to the Prime Minister following his comments on unaccompanied child refugees in Calais at the Franco-British Summit:


View More Refugee Taskforce

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