More than 200 public figures have signed an open letter to Theresa May urging her not to stop letting lone child refugees enter the country.
The move follows the government’s announcement last week that it would only be taking in 350 unaccompanied children under the Dubs amendment, named after Labour peer Lord Alf Dubs.
The letter, which slams the decision as “truly shameful”, has been signed by stars including Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Coldplay and Ralph Fiennes.
“The idea that as a country we will slam the door shut after just 350 children have reached safety is completely unacceptable,” it reads.
“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.”
The government was widely criticised last week when the Home Office announced that, due to a lack of places, it would stop allowing vulnerable child refugees to enter Britain at the end of the financial year.
Campaigners had previously hoped that around 3,000 children from mainland Europe would be able to settle here.
In a statement, Josie Naughton, co-founder of charity 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.”
You can read the full letter below:
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.