14/02/2017 00:17 GMT

Dubs Amendment Open Letter, Signed Gary Lineker And Other Celebrities, Calls For UK To Take More Child Refugees

'The idea we will slam the door shut is completely unacceptable'.

Gary Lineker is among the celebrities who have signed an open letter to Theresa May telling her not to stop letting in lone child refugees under the Dubs Amendment.

The Government caused outrage last week when, under cover of the rancorous debate over Brexit, it quietly announced it would stop taking children.

Britain was meant to take around 3,000 under the Dubs Amendment - named for former child refugee and Labour peer Lord Dubs - but took just 350.

Director Ken Loach delivered a blistering attack on the Government during his Bafta acceptance speech on Sunday, calling the refusal to take in child refugees a “disgrace”.

Press Association
Gary Lineker has been lambasted for speaking out on child refugees

Lineker, the former footballer and Match of The Day presenter, has been lambasted by the tabloid press for speaking out on child refugees.

In the open letter, also signed by actors Mark Rylance, Keira Knightley, and Ralph Fiennes, the decision to wind up the Dubs Amendment is branded “truly shameful”.

Authors, actors, musicians and broadcasters are among the nearly 200 public figures who have signed the letter. 

The letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

The government’s decision to close the “Dubs” lifeline for vulnerable refugee children is truly shameful.

The idea that as a country we will slam the door shut after just 350 children have reached safety is completely unacceptable.

Lord Dubs was himself a child saved by Sir Nicholas Winton who rescued 669 children virtually single-handed.

It is embarrassing that the Prime Minister’s entire government will not even manage to match the example set by her former constituent all those years ago, let alone the efforts of the Kindertransport movement of which he was a part which saved 10,000 children from the Nazis.

It is clear from the work of charities like Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project and Help Refugees with unaccompanied child refugees across Greece, Italy and France that where these safe and legal routes are blocked, children are left with a terrible choice between train tracks on the one hand and people traffickers on the other.

The government’s threadbare consultation with councils is now nine months out of date.

The country we know and love is bigger than this. Communities and councils across the country stand ready to do more. The government must agree to extend the programme and re-consult with councils immediately.

Safe Passage has said that there are 2,300 unaccompanied refugee children in Greece, around half of whom are homeless, living on the street.

The group estimates that at least 920 of these children would be eligible for transfer under the Dubs Amendment. The children have been out of school for three years on average, Safe Passage said.

Josie Naughton, co-founder of Help Refugees, said: The outpouring of support for the continuation of the Dubs scheme by these well-known figures and the public demonstrates that its closure is at odds with the British values that make this country great.

“We ask that the Government finds a way to do more to protect these vulnerable children fleeing war and conflict just as we did before the Second World War.”

Rabbi Janet Darley, spokeswoman for Safe Passage, said: “We welcome the intervention by this broad range of public figures.

“Voices right across society are challenging the government’s decision to close the ‘Dubs’ and the lifeline it offers to the most vulnerable child refugees because we know it reflects our true national character.

“Shutting the door on refugee children leaves them with a terrible choice of train tracks on the one hand and people traffickers on the other.

“Councils and communities across the country stand ready to do more, we appeal to the government to live up to our proud history of offering sanctuary to the most vulnerable child refugees. Britain is better than this.”