Chloe Smith
MP for Norwich North

Setting the record straight No, MPs did not vote to turn all refugee children away

Author: Chloe Smith, Updated: 07 November 2016 16:00

This article was published by Chloe’s office in her absence on maternity leave.


A number of constituents have been in contact with our office in recent days asking why Chloe voted “to turn away all refugee children”. In short, she didn’t.


We understand an article was published on various websites, listing the names of MPs who voted against a specific amendment to allow for a fixed number of unaccompanied refugee children, who had already arrived in Europe, to come to the UK. This much is true. However this only tells half the story.


The vote being referred to took place some months ago. The key point which MPs were voting on was not whether to accept unaccompanied children, but whether there should be a fixed number of arrivals. What hasn’t been mentioned is that the Government instead accepted an alternative amendment, to allow for an unfixed number of unaccompanied refugee children, who had already arrived in Europe, to come to the UK. The number to be resettled would be determined in consultation with local authorities, as it is vital for the children coming here that they have a safe home to go to.


What also appears to have been forgotten was that this alternative amendment, which the Government accepted, built upon an existing scheme to settle 3,000 vulnerable children and family members directly from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the commitment to resettling 20,000 refugees directly from Syrian refugee communities, which has been underway since last year.


With regards to the French demolition of the Calais camp, the Home Secretary has stressed the seriousness of our humanitarian responsibilities, and has pledged that those eligible to come to the UK will be transferred as matter of urgency to be reunited with family members, or given appropriate care.


Finally, we must not overlook the £2.3 billion which the UK has committed to responding to the crisis in Syria. This has supplied over 21.5 million ration packs of food and provided water for 2 million people. It has built shelter for half a million, offered healthcare for over 4.4 million, and given over 1.1 million children access to educational activities. In short, it is lifesaving aid, delivered by the generosity of the British taxpayer, and it is wrong to ignore it. Britain is not turning its back on the vulnerable, nor shall we.


We would like to reassure constituents worried by what they have read that there is always more to a story than the one sided version of events often told. Throughout this crisis Chloe has maintained contact with the County Council and Home Office Ministers. She has spoken of the need for prioritising support and overcoming barriers, and has written personally to faith groups across the city to ask for their support in identifying more foster carers.


The Government has published a guide on what you can do to support refugees coming to the UK, which you can find here:


Community sponsorship constitutes a major part of this strategy, and a full set of guidance on this can be read here: