Attempts to reopen the child refugee scheme failed last night after the Government saw off a Tory rebellion.
Thirty Conservative MPs had been expected to back plans to force councils in England to declare how many unaccompanied minors they could take.
But in the end, just three – including former education secretary Nicky Morgan and Twickenham MP Tania Mathias – backed the rebel amendment put forward by Tory backbencher Heidi Allen.
The rebel amendment was put forward by South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, pictured with refugee children
Theresa May personally intervened to plead with Tory MPs not to vote in favour of the amendment.
The Government faced criticism after closing the programme, which was named after Labour peer Lord Dubs, after just 350 unaccompanied minors were resettled in the UK.
Ministers had argued that councils could not afford to take the thousands of child refugees campaigners had called for.
But Miss Allen, the MP for South Cambridgeshire, told the Commons that since the Government announced the Dubs scheme would be closed down, ‘local authorities across the country have stepped forward and said they can do more’.
Chairman of Labour's home affairs select committee Yvette Cooper said she was 'deeply disappointed' over the result
The three Tory supporters of the amendment were joined by 195 Labour MPs, 47 SNP, and nine Liberal Democrats, among others. But the Government defeated the cross-party alliance by 287 votes to 267.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the result ‘shames Britain’, adding: ‘The Government continues to defend the indefensible by closing Dubs against opposition from a significant number of MPs, including those on its own benches, and from the public.’
Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairman of the home affairs select committee, said she was ‘deeply disappointed’.
It was ‘completely wrong’ to close the Dubs scheme after just six months, she said, adding that the UK should use the way it treats refugees to send a message to Donald Trump.
‘When President Trump has closed America’s door to all refugees, we should be showing that is not the British way,’ she said. ‘When the Prime Minister has rightly championed action against modern slavery, the Government should be consistent and listen to the independent anti-slavery commissioner about the risks of child trafficking.’
But a Government spokesman said last night the UK’s doors ‘remain open to all those who need our protection’.
Hungary to detain migrants in camps
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Migrants who illegally enter Hungary will be locked up in container camps under rules approved yesterday.
The country’s prime minister Viktor Orban said the approach was needed to re-inforce Europe’s borders – and he denounced mass migration as a ‘Trojan horse for terrorism’.
Under the measures, migrants will be housed in converted shipping containers until their applications for asylum are decided. Those whose claims are rejected will be forced to pay for their care.
Amnesty International said the move was ‘deeply inhumane’ while the UN said the measures would have a ‘terrible physical and psychological impact’ on asylum-seekers.
Under current rules, migrants detected within five miles of Hungary’s border can be held for a maximum of four weeks. The new measures will remove time constraints.