Government dealt string of defeats on post-Brexit immigration bill in Lords

Including on rights of unaccompanied child refugees   

Priti Patel says asylum system is 'broken' and promises reform

Peers have backed a call for unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with close relatives in the UK as they inflicted a series of defeats on Boris Johnson's flagship post-Brexit immigration bill.

The Lords overwhelmingly supported an amendment by Lord Dubs, who himself fled the Nazis as a child, to restore protections after the EU transition period ends later this year.

Before the vote Lord Dubs had asked: “Surely it is right that when there are young people who have got relatives here that family reunion must be a basic, basic thing that we should support?"  

The vote was one of a number of defeats home secretary Priti Patel suffered as peers considered the legislation in the Lords, just hours after she pledged to “fix” what she said was a broken asylum system.

Lord Dubs later called on MPs to support the amendment when it comes before them later this year and “do the right thing by these uniquely vulnerable children”.

The government is already under pressure to re-establish the Dubs scheme, the result of a previous campaign by Lord Dubs, which was designed to offer sanctuary to vulnerable unaccompanied minors. 

It closed in May having facilitated the transfer of 480 children.

But Tory Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford told peers that ministers wanted to strike a negotiated agreement with the EU on child refugees and did not want to preempt that with domestic legislation.

Peers backed a second amendment proposed by Lord Dubs, which would give children in care automatic leave to remain under the EU settlement scheme.

The government was also defeated when  peers supported a Labour-led demand for an independent review into the impact of the change on social care, following  warnings last week it could fuel staff shortages.

Peers also backed an amendment that would prevent the introduction of financial restrictions on Britons returning to the UK with their EU families from March 2022. 

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