Who is the Cameron family member who doesn't vote Tory?

The Prime Minister suggests that not all of his family are as supportive as they could be.

After Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg's appearances earlier this week, it was David Cameron's turn on The World At One this lunchtime. Asked about the decision of Conservative MP Priti Patel's father to stand as a UKIP candidate, Cameron replied: "it's a free country...often in families you get split loyalties", before intriguingly adding: "I'm trying to think of my own family. I don't want to reveal which members of my family ...". He quickly trailed off but the clear suggestion was that one or several members of the Cameron clan don't vote Conservative. "On the whole, they're all pretty supportive," he added, sounding less than convincing. Cameron couldn't bring himself to mention the word 'UKIP' (a fact that Martha Kearney rightly drew attention to) but could there be a supporter of Nigel Farage's party in the ranks? 

I'm reminded of the incident before the 2010 general election when Ed Vaizey, a friend of Cameron's from Oxford University, suggested that Samantha Cameron "might have voted for Blair" and "would be going into this poll thinking 'Is Cameron the real deal or should I stick with Brown?'" A furious CCHQ went on to force the-then shadow culture minister to issue this retraction: "I am very embarrassed by this. I had no justification for what I said. The only thing I do know from seeing David and Sam for many years is that Sam worked night and day on David's campaign in 1997 in Stafford and, as she said, has never voted Labour."

David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on April 24, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Why Theresa May is a smuggler's best friend when it comes to child refugees

Children prefer to disappear than trust the authorities.

On Monday, Theresa May abolished the post of minister for Syrian Refugees. On Tuesday, a House of Lords select committee report found there were 10,000 migrant and refugee children missing in the EU, of which Britain is still technically a part. And smugglers across the continent raised a glass.

Children do not stay still. In 2013, Missing Children Europe reported that half of unaccompanied children placed in reception centres vanished within the next 48 hours. One explanation is that they fall prey to the usual villains – pimps and gangs. 

But there is another explanation. Refugee and migrant children have so little trust in the authorities that they would rather disappear and put their faith in the underworld. 

One reason for this is that under EU law, asylum seekers are returned to their first point of entry, which is likely to be an overcrowded Greek port rather than a city with education facilities and job prospects. 

Children will go to extreme measures to disappear. The report noted:

“We were particularly troubled to hear of children in Italy and Greece burning or otherwise damaging their fingertips in order to avoid registration, in many cases because they were afraid of being detained or forcibly returned to transit countries having reached their final destination.”

Children are also desperate to find their families. The EU’s Family Reunification Directive should in theory reunite families who have successfully sought asylum, but the UK has opted out of it (and now the EU altogether). Other EU member states have moved to restrict it. The UK has opted into the Dublin Regulation, which allows for family reunification. 

This is partly due to a suspicion that family reunification acts as an incentive for families to send children first, alone. But the report found no evidence of that. Rather, it is usually a case of parents trying to protect their children by sending them out of a dangerous situation. 

The process can be achingly uncertain and slow. Smugglers understand how impatient children are. Two MEPs told the select committee about the port in Malmö, Sweden:

"Traffickers await the arrival of minors, telling them that: 'Well, we can get you to your family much quicker than if you go through the system here' and that 'Getting a guardian will take ages, and then they do the age assessment, which is intrusive. Don’t do that. Just go there, call this guy, take this mobile and they’ll take care of you.'”

In his brief time as Syrian Refugees minister, Richard Harrington brought the topic of unaccompanied minors to MPs again and again. He promised to improve the speed at which applications under the Dublin Regulation were processed. On 13 June he told MPs: “We are doing our absolute best to speed it up as much as we can.”

His role has now been absorbed into the Home Office. No. 10 described it as a temporary position, one no longer needed now the resettlement programme was underway. When the UK finally triggers Article 50 and begins Brexit, it can also leave its EU obligations behind as well. May, the former Home secretary, voted against allowing in 3,000 child refugees.

This does not bode well for asylum policy in Brexit Britain. Meanwhile, with no fast legal route to family unification, smugglers can look forward to the kind of bumper profits they enjoyed in 2015

The consequences can be fatal. Masud, a 15-year-old unaccompanied Afghan, travelled to Calais in the hope of reaching his sister in the UK under the family reunification rules. 

As the report put it: “Masud died in the back of a lorry while trying to reach the UK just before the New Year, having lost hope that his claim to join his sister would ever be heard.”