On friday morning I happened to have Sky News on in the background, so I was able to catch the live “announcement” by our Labour government on it’s decision to allow Gurkhas, who have risked their lives fighting alongside British forces, to settle in the UK. The announcement was nothing more than a single A4 sheet of paper handed to Gurkha Justice campaigner, Joanna Lumley. She was visibly upset by the decision.
“People who are prepared to fight and die for this country should be entitled to live in this country. Yet even this basic principle is broken by a Government desperate to cover its back and wriggle out of its commitments.”
“This is the week Labour lost its last principles: dishonest with the nation about the state of our finances; cheating taxpayers by making MPs’ expenses even murkier; and now turning its back on brave and loyal soldiers who simply want to live in the country they love and served.”
Britain has had no greater friends than the Gurkhas. They have served all across the world in the defence of our Country for nearly 200 years. Over 45,000 died in the two World Wars as part of the British Army. They are still fighting in the British Army today.
Only a tiny fraction of the Gurkhas who retired before 1997 will win settlement rights under the new policy. A Gurkha will have to have served 20 years or more or won one of a handful of medals: the majority of Gurkhas served for 15 years under standard army policy.
Nick Clegg confirmed that the Liberal Democrats will hold an opposition day debate on the issue in Parliament on Wednesday following last week’s Government announcement to limit the numbers of Gurkhas allowed to settle in the UK. Joanna Lumley and other campaigners have agreed to support the debate on the day by staging a protest outside the House of Commons.
The Liberal Democrats have been firmly backing the Justice Campaign, and have consistently raised this issue in Parliament. Our position is unequivocal: The government must allow all Gurkhas who risked their lives serving in our armed forces to become British citizens, and enjoy equal rights. If someone is prepared to die for our country they should have the right to live in our country.