Former Cabinet minister Sir Eric Pickles has joined calls for the Government to resettle thousands of child refugees living unaccompanied in Europe.
Sir Eric, one of the most senior Conservatives so far to speak out on the issue, drew parallels with the Kindertransport, which saw thousands of Jewish children brought to safety in the UK in the months before the outbreak of World War Two.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire confirmed that ministers were “actively considering” proposals to support more refugee children, following reports at the weekend that the Government was close to a decision.
Charities including Save the Children have called on the UK to take in 3,000 refugee children in Europe, in addition to the 20,000 Syrian refugees that the Government has pledged to resettle from camps on the country’s borders. The plan has the backing of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
During a House of Commons debate, Sir Eric said: “We need to remember the enormous contribution that Kindertransport made to this country. Distinguished doctors, distinguished surgeons, members of both Houses [of Parliament] were saved by that.
“I’m pleased the Prime Minister is re-looking at this. He is quite right to try and keep [refugee] children in the region…but we are where we are, there are children out there who are at risk. I would urge the Government to look carefully at this…a month ago we were celebrating that great Christian festival of children and I hope that that spirit lingers beyond Boxing Day.”