Sorry we’ve been off the radar recently – we had a hectic few weeks towards the end of the election campaign…
But it was worth it! Out of the 1031 candidates who signed up to our asylum election pledge, 219 were elected to Parliament. Among them are Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy PM Nick Clegg, Harriet Harman (Acting Leader of the Labour Party), Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas and the leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru groups at Westminster. We’re delighted to have their commitment to protecting the right to asylum.
So what now? Well, we’re currently writing to all MPs who signed the election pledge, thanking them for their support, giving them some key facts on asylum and refugee issues, and pointing out the areas of policy where change is needed to ensure that the asylum system is fair, humane and effective.
We’ll also be seeking to meet with government ministers, including new Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May, and Immigration Minister Damian Green to ensure they are also committed to making life better for asylum seekers and refugees living here.
But does it follow that a new government will bring with it a new approach to asylum policy? On Tuesday, they certainly started off on the right foot, when they released the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition agreement which included a commitment to ending the detention of children. At the Refugee Council we have campaigned along with our partners for an end to this practice for years, so we’ll be pressing for this to be implemented quickly, and in a way that allows families to stay together.
Our new Parliament has a real opportunity to improve our asylum system. And the support for the right to asylum from over one third of MPs who signed our pledge is a great start. But we won’t stop there. From now, we’ll be working hard to guarantee they keep the promise they made to us in the run up to this extraordinary election, and most importantly, that they act on it, to ensure refugees in the UK are given the protection and help they need.