Local MPs vote to defeat Government on Gurkhas residence rights

April 29, 2009 7:10 PM

Mark and other Lib Dem MPs celebrating the victory outside Parliament

Gordon Brown was dealt a major blow as he suffered an historic defeat today in a vote on a Liberal Democrat motion to allow retired Gurkha soldiers to remain in the UK. Cheadle MP Mark Hunter and Hazel Grove MP Andrew Stunell joined with other MPs to defeat the government.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader, called today's debate in protest at the Government's decision to change immigration rules that would severely limit the numbers of Gurkhas allowed to settle in the UK.

Whilst Mark and Andrew joined their Liberal Democrat colleagues, and a cross-party alliance of MPs to inflict an unprecedented defeat on the Government, Stockport's Labour MPs, Ann Coffey and Andrew Gwynne, decided to vote against giving the Gurkhas the right to remain in the UK.

After the vote, Mark and Andrew joined Nick Clegg, actress Joanna Lumley (whose father served with a Gurkha regiment) and a large group of Gurkhas and other campaigners outside Parliament, to urge Gordon Brown to abide by today's vote, and the recent High Court Decision that ruled in favour of granting the Gurkhas the right to remain.

Commenting today from Westminster, Mark Hunter said:


Mark and Nick Clegg with Gurkhas protesting outside Government

"The Gurkhas have risked their lives fighting for this country, and yet when they need our help, the government has shamefully turned their backs on them. They have been treated appallingly by the Labour government despite the great contribution they have made to protect the freedoms and safety of this country.

"To treat Gurkhas who retired before 1997 any differently from those who served later is totally unfair, and shows how out of touch the government is. I've been contacted by many constituents who are disgusted by the treatment the Gurkhas have received, and who are thankful for the service they have given this country.

"This sensational result will force the Government to think again - there is no way they can wriggle out of this now. The High Court has ruled against them, the House of Commons has voted against them, and the British people have lined up against them in protest. They must listen to the will of the people and allow the Gurkhas to settle in the UK"

Andrew Stunell added:

"We owe the Gurkhas a debt of gratitude, and I'm proud to have voted to support their cause. I'm just disappointed that Stockport's two Labour MPs couldn't bring themselves to vote alongside me.

"There's no doubt that we got the right result today, and one that has the support of the Stockport Public. I've had an extremely full postbag over the past few days with constituents expressing their outrage at the way the government has treated the Gurkhas - one was so angry he offered up his spare room if it would help even one Gurkha stay!

"Today's vote was a great victory for the campaign. Now we will just have to hope that Gordon Brown changes his mind and does the right thing to give the Gurkhas the recognition and dignity they deserve."

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