Tories Accused Of 'Trivial Nastiness' For Erasing Mickey Mouse Mural At Children's Asylum Centre

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick reportedly ordered the cartoon character artwork was painted over as he feared it was too welcoming.
The murals at the Kent Intake Unit in Dover.
The murals at the Kent Intake Unit in Dover.
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

The Conservatives have been accused of “trivial nastiness” after immigration minister Robert Jenrick ordered the removal of murals of cartoon characters at an asylum centre for children in Dover.

The i newspaper has revealed the Home Office has painted over the artwork of Mickey Mouse and others after Jenrick felt they gave the impression Britain was too “welcoming” to people crossing the English Channel in small boats.

The Kent Intake Unit mainly processes children who arrive solo unaccompanied by an adult.

The murals feature in an HM Chief Inspector of Prisons report published in February following an inspection of the facility after its opening in November.

The move, which has prompted a backlash, comes as Rishi Sunak’s government has made cracking down on immigration one of its central goals.

Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock tweeted: “The idea that painting over murals for unaccompanied children in immigration centres will somehow stop the boats is utterly absurd. This is a sign of a chaotic government in crisis.”

The Lib Dems tweeted: “This is the worst kind of trivial nastiness – a Mickey Mouse minister taking an axe to Mickey Mouse.

“Like the government’s ridiculous Rwanda scheme, it is performative cruelty and a waste of taxpayer money.”

The newspaper reported that Jenrick had told staff to paint over the murals in April following the building’s opening.

The Home Office has confirmed the murals were removed on Tuesday, but highlighted how other features at the centre included larger and softer interview rooms, an outside space, prayer rooms, a larger reception area and improved security measures to ensure children’s safety.

A spokesperson said: “We do all we can to ensure children are safe, secure and supported as we urgently seek placements with a local authority.

“All children receive a welfare interview on their arrival at accommodation, which includes questions designed to identify potential indicators of trafficking or safeguarding issues.

“Our priority is to stop the boats and disrupt the people smugglers.

“The government has gone further by introducing legislation which will ensure that those people arriving in the UK illegally are detained and promptly removed to their country of origin or a safe third country.”

The government has pledged to stop overcrowded dinghies making the journey from northern France to the UK. More than 45,000 people arrived in Britain across the Channel in 2022, and several died in the attempt.


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