Protest to be held outside MP’s office after refugee vote

Andrea Jenkyns.
Andrea Jenkyns.

A refugee support group will stage a peaceful protest outside Andrea Jenkyns MP’s constituency office after she cancelled a surgery over “security” fears.

Morley and Outwood MP Ms Jenkyns voted in the House of Commons against Lord Alf Dubs’ proposed amendment to the Immigration Bill, which would have meant the UK accepting 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children.

In response, members of the We Are Wakefield group planned a protest outside her surgery at Drighlington Community Library tomorrow.

Ms Jenkyns confirmed the surgery was cancelled on the advice of police over security issues – but protesters will now stage a “vigil” outside her Queen Street office instead.

We Are Wakefield member Leda Prest, of Horbury, said Ms Jenkyns is the closest MP to have voted against the amendments. The group hopes to persuade her to vote for a new amendment which was backed by the House of Lords on Tuesday.

Ms Prest said: “We were going to protest peacefully and show pictures to highlight the plight of these 3,000 children who have got the right to be here.

“We’re going to have a vigil to ask her to vote for the Dubs amendment.

“We Are Wakefield have undertaken trips to the camps in Dunkirk and Calais. I’ve seen children as young as three-and-a-half who are unaccompanied.”

“These children are at risk, they’re sleeping outside.

“What are the MPs who voted against thinking about? It’s not okay.”

Ms Prest added that she wanted to stress the protest will be peaceful.

Ms Jenkyns said she cancelled the surgery after seeing comments posted on a Facebook page.

She said she did not want to put her constituents through the ordeal of walking through a hostile crowd.

She also said she was concerned about one post which reads “Can we throw eggs?”

She was also concerned that she has no record of the name of someone who posted on the group that they had arranged a constituency meeting with her.

Ms Jenkyns said: “I’m open to hearing people’s views but when people are talking about throwing eggs, why should my constituents have to put up with that?

“I cancelled the surgery and phoned everyone personally to arrange for me to go to their house or meet at my office.”

Ms Jenkyns will now only meet with constituents by appointment and surgery venues will not be published in advance.

A spokeswoman for Ms Jenkyns also said afterwards: “Andrea is happy to meet any constituent about any issue.

“Andrea has a duty of care to anyone booked into her surgery, that they will be able to discuss sometimes sensitive information in a safe environment. They should not have to be in a situation where throwing eggs may be a reality.”

MPs voted against Dubs’ proposals by 294 to 276 on Monday.

The House of Lords has since backed a different proposal, which will remove the obligation to accept the 3,000 amount of child refugees. It would require the government to consult with local authorities to settle on a total.

Lord Alf Dubs came to Britain as part of the Kindertransport scheme before the war.

The protest will begin after 11am on Saturday.