Missing migrant children: Tulip Siddiq criticises Jonathan Gullis’s ‘repulsive’ remark

Tulip Siddiq has criticised Jonathan Gullis’s “repulsive attitude” after he “jeered” in response to her concerns about missing migrant children.
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An MP who raised the issue of missing migrant children in the House of Commons has criticised a colleague’s “repulsive attitude” who “jeered” in response to her concerns.

Scores of children seeking asylum in Britain are missing after being kidnapped by gangs from Home Office-run hotels on the south coast, the Observer newspaper reported last week.

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Following the revelations, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq questioned the prime minister Rishi Sunak on the issue of 200 unaccompanied youngsters in Parliament last Wednesday (January 25).

But she was heckled by Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and former schools minister Jonathan Gullis, 33, who claimed the missing children “shouldn’t have come here illegally”.

The comment, shared on Twitter by Peter Kyle, shadow Northern Ireland secretary, was branded “loathsome” by SNP Commons leader Deidre Brock, according to the Mirror.

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq. Photo: GettyHampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq. Photo: Getty
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq. Photo: Getty

Mr Kyle wrote on Twitter: “Just when you think you’ve heard it all, the Tory Party find a new low."

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Now shadow city minister Ms Siddiq, 40, has criticised Mr Gullis’ for his “repulsive attitude” and highlighted the “toxicity of the debate” around asylum claims and immigration in Britain.

The Hampstead and Kilburn MP said he “jeered” in response to her question and accused the government of a dereliction of duty.

“Last week I heard from Holocaust survivor Lia Lesser whose mother sent her to this country out of sheer desperation, but also because she believed her child would be safe in the UK,” she continued.

“My own mother came to the UK after members of her family had been assassinated in Bangladesh, and she was welcomed with open arms by the Irish community in Kilburn.”

Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Jonathan Gullis. Photo: GettyConservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Jonathan Gullis. Photo: Getty
Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Jonathan Gullis. Photo: Getty
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She told LondonWorld: “This repulsive attitude does not reflect the British values that my mother and Lia Lesser hold so dear. These children deserve better.

“The toxicity of the debate lets down the children whom the UK has a responsibility to protect, and demeans the government whose job it is to keep them safe.”

Ms Siddiq described the scale of the crisis as “deeply sad”.

She said: “Shockingly, ministers have admitted they have no idea where these vulnerable children are. There is no excuse for this.

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“The Home Office has ignored repeated warnings from whistle-blowers, the police and child protection services that the unaccompanied children staying in these hotels are being targeted by dangerous criminal gangs.”

And she added: “Why hasn’t the government shut the hotels down and moved the children to a safe location?

“There must be an urgent investigation to understand the links between organised crime, people smuggling and the exploitation of children, and the inappropriate use of these hotels should be ended immediately.

“In the UK, we have a long tradition of helping those in need, and that is why the government’s dereliction of duty in this case is all the more shocking.”

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Responding in the Commons to Ms Siddiq’s question last week, Mr Sunak said: “Over the last few years, the United Kingdom has opened up its hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of people from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Hong Kong and provided refuge and sanctuary to many children in that process, but the reports that we have read about are concerning.

“Local authorities have a statutory duty to protect all children regardless of where they go missing from, and in that situation they work closely with local agencies, including the police, to establish their whereabouts. That is why it is so important that we end the use of hotels for unaccompanied asylum seekers and reduce pressure on the overall system. That is what our plans will do.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have not received any complaints in relation to these claims. The wellbeing of children in our care is an absolute priority.

“Robust safeguards are in place to ensure they are safe and supported as we seek urgent placements with a local authority. When issues do arise, we take complaints extremely seriously and they are acted upon quickly.

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“In October, the independent immigration watchdog found young people in hotel accommodation unanimously reported feeling safe, happy and treated with respect.”

Mr Gullis’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

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