Daughter of Kindertransport founder criticises May over resignation speech

Barbara Winton attacks May's refugee policy after the former PM quoted her father, Sir Nicholas


The daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton, the organiser behind the Kindertransport, has criticised Theresa May over her policies towards refugees after the former prime minister quoted Sir Nicholas during her resignation speech on Friday.

In a reference to members of her party who have refused to vote for her Brexit deal, Mrs May praised the "great humanitarian" Sir Nicholas and quoted him telling her that “compromise is not a dirty word”.

But writing in the Times, Sir Nicholas’ daughter, Barbara, said: “Sadly, such admiration has not led to following in his footsteps in relation to today’s child refugees.

“Like so many others who believe the UK should be welcoming more vulnerable refugee children, I increasingly despair at the situation facing child refugees in Europe today.”

Sir Nicholas organised Kindertransports that saved 669 children from Czechoslovakia.

Mrs May said in her speech:  “For many years the great humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of hundreds of children by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia through the Kindertransport, was my constituent in Maidenhead.

“At another time of political controversy, a few years before his death, he took me to one side at a local event and gave me a piece of advice.

“He said: ‘Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise’. He was right.”

In January last year, Barbara and Sir Nicholas delivered a letter to Downing Street urging Mrs May to honour the Kindertransport legacy by helping children caught up in the global refugee crisis. 

In the letter, former Kinder - including Lord Dubs - called on the Prime Minister to deliver on the government’s promise to resettle 480 children from Europe through a scheme arising from the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Act. 

In the wake of the letter, Mrs May pledged to honour the Dubs scheme, and promised up to 3,000 places for children in war zones through the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme.

However, Ms Winton wrote: “The fact remains that in the three years since these promises were made, neither scheme for giving sanctuary to children has been filled. And even if they were, these totals represent just a fraction of the children in need of resettlement globally and much less than the proportion the UNHCR suggests the UK could take to share the burden.”

Lord Dubs tweeted: “Nicky Winton did not compromise. He was resolute in his determination to save refugee children like me.

“I hope that before she steps down Theresa May will honour Nicky’s memory by welcoming more unaccompanied refugee children from France, Italy and Greece.”

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