Boris Johnson’s flagship post-Brexit immigration Bill is facing the prospect of multiple defeats in the House of Lords, as peers demand greater safeguards for EU children in care and unaccompanied refugees.
It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel branded the asylum system “broken” and promised the Conservative virtual conference a thoroughgoing overhaul to speed up the processing of cases and allow more “immediate” returns of people with no claim to refuge.
On Monday, the upper chamber is expected to cast a series of votes on protections for EU nationals – not included in government’s immigration legislation – after the Brexit transition period expires in December 2020.
Lord Alf Dubs, who fled the Nazis as a child on the Kindertransport, has proposed two amendments, including one ensuring unaccompanied child refugees in Europe will continue to have a legal right to reunion with families in the UK.
A similar promise was given by former prime minister Theresa May, but it was noticeably absent from the Mr Johnson’s landmark Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which cleared all its parliamentary stages in January. The government has insisted it will remain a priority to help vulnerable children.
The Labour peer hopes to attach the provisions to the Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill, which seeks to end the free movement, repeal EU law in relation to immigration and enable the government to implement a new migration system in 2021.
“I’m hoping that we can win that on Monday – nobody can guarantee it,” Lord Dubs told The Independent. “The government are fighting very hard against us winning anything. If it gets to the Commons, I’m hoping the Commons will then pass it.”
“This is a very humanitarian position,” he added. “It’s one [family reunions] which in principle the government accepted, but