David Cameron and Alex Salmond attend the Drumhead Service on June 25, 2011 in Edinburgh. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Why Cameron has said he won't resign if Scotland votes for independence

Aside from his own preservation, any hint that he would depart would aid the Yes campaign. 

For weeks, Westminster has been awash with speculation that David Cameron will resign if Scotland votes for independence (I was one of the first to report the story here). There would be no constitutional requirement for him to do so (we would, after all, be in uncharted territory) but the loss of the 307-year-old Union, combined with the fact that Cameron initiated the vote, means many regard it as the only honourable course to take. 

Today's Daily Mail, however, reports that whatever the outcome on 18 September, the PM will remain in office. The paper's James Chapman writes that Cameron has told friends he has "no intention" of resigning if Scotland votes for independence. One source comments:

Better Together is cross-party, so this doesn’t arise. He would not resign - definitely not.

In Scotland, Labour is the big, dominant political force. Does Ed Miliband have to resign too if there’s a yes vote? The SNP was elected with a clear majority in the Scottish parliament having said they would hold a referendum.

We either moved ahead with that referendum or we blocked it. Do people really think the Prime Minister could have said to the people of Scotland: 'You may have voted in favour of having a referendum but you can’t have one?'

Aside from Cameron's own interest in his preservation, there is one other reason why the Tories are keen to kill the speculation. Any hint that he would resign would only serve to energise the nationalists and encourage a Yes vote. Alex Salmond would be able to boast that not only would he free his country from Westminster, but that he would topple the prime minister in the process. And Cameron, as he self-deprecatingly remarked at a recent PMQs, is a man whose appeal "does not stretch to all people in Scotland" (where the Tories have just one MP). 

Assuming that this is no bluff (as nationalists will claim it is), we are left with the oddity that Cameron has made it clear that he will resign if he is unable to deliver an EU referendum by 2017, but that he won't if he loses the Union.

The issue, however, is likely to remain hypothetical. Despite the recent excitable commentary, the reality remains that the No side retains a comfortable average lead of eight points and that the Yes campaign has not led in a single poll. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The government has quietly shut the door on vulnerable child refugees

The government has tried to halt the Dubs Amendment, a scheme designed to save thousands of vulnerable child refugees.  

The "Dubs Amendment" to the Immigration Bill of last year, in which the government begrudgingly promised to accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees from other countries in Europe, was halted this month after only 350 children had been admitted.

It has since become absolutely clear that the government is wriggling out of its obligation to accept child refugees, shutting the door on the most vulnerable. 

The amendment was named after my Labour colleague in the House of Lords. Alfred Dubs, who grew up in Britain and was saved from the hands of the German Nazi regime by Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children virtually single-handedly from Czechoslovakia.

The decision – announced at a time when the media was mainly concentrating on Brexit - has since been the source of much outcry both within Parliament and beyond. People across Britain are clear that the government must end these efforts to prevent refugees arriving here, and this is not who we as a society are.

Labour simply cannot accept the government’s decision, which seems to breach the spirit of the law passed with cross-party support. I have challenged Home Secretary Amber Rudd on the issue. 

The government's actions have also been criticised by Yvette Cooper, who heads Labour’s refugee task force and the Home Affairs select committee, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who called it “a clear dereliction of the UK’s moral and global duty”. 

Then at the recent Bafta awards, a number of those in attendance including the actor Viggo Mortensen, also wore lapel badges reading “Dubs now”.

And we have seen more than 200 high-profile public figures including Ralph Fiennes, Keira Knightley, Sir Mark Rylance, Gary Lineker, Michael Morpurgo and the band Coldplay write to Theresa May calling on her government not to close the scheme, decrying the decision as “truly shameful” and adding that “the country we know and love is better than this". 

As the letter states, it is embarrassing, that this government cannot match even Winton’s total. As his own daughter put it in her letter to the Prime Minister, “I know we can’t take in every unaccompanied child in Europe, but I suppose there was a sense when the government accepted the Dubs Amendment that they would make a bigger contribution than they have.”

We need to be clear that where safe and legal routes are blocked for these children, they are left with a terrible choice between train tracks on the one hand, and people traffickers on the other. These children have been identified as the most vulnerable in the world, including girls without parents, who are susceptible to sex traffickers.

The government’s decision is particularly disappointing in that we know that many local authorities across Britain, which assume responsibility for the children once they are admitted to the country, are willing to accept more refugees.

Yet the public outcry shows we can still force a change.

Interestingly, former Conservative minister Nicky Morgan has argued that: “Britain has always been a global, outward-facing country as well as being compassionate to those who need our help most. The Conservative party now needs to demonstrate that combination in our approach to issues such as the Dubs children.”

Let’s keep the pressure up on this vital issue. The internationally agreed principles and the Dubs Amendment were never conceived as a “one-off” - they should continue to commit to meeting their international treaty obligations and our own laws.

And on our part, Labour commits to meeting the obligations of the Dubs Amendment. We will restore the scheme and accept some of the most vulnerable children in the world.

 

Diane Abbott is Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and shadow home secretary. She was previously shadow secretary for health.