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Government rejects U-turn in Gurkha fight

The Gurkhas in action
The Gurkhas in action

Campaigners have been stunned by a Government refusal to budge over rules governing Gurkhas’ right to settle in the UK.

A meeting of the House of Commons Homes Affairs Select Committee concluded the Government would stick by its plans, derided by the public, Parliament and the media just days before.

It what some are seeing as an act of betrayal and others an act of political suicide, the Government is standing by its decision to severely limit entry to the UK for Gurkhas who retired before 1997.

The rewritten rules were announced last month to campaigners’ dismay, limiting rights of entry to those who had a gallantry medal or who had been mentioned in dispatches, those who had severe health problems brought on by service, and those who had served more than 20 years.

Only officers are allowed to serve more than 15 years as Gurkhas.

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An Opposition Motion was heard in the Commons last week and actually won the house’s approval - something very unusual. It was hoped that this would result in the Government climbing down. Instead, all it has promised to do is look at the 1,300 outstanding immigration cases and possibly reconsider its position in July.

Actress Joanna Lumley
Actress Joanna Lumley

Campaigner and Shepway Cllr Peter Carroll said: "It just transcends our understanding of everything. They trotted out the same arguments about money and said they would do a review by July.

"I don’t think the politicians involved in this understand just how deeply the public feel about this.

"It is a political suicide note.

"We are now going to have to take stock and the first thing we are going to do is get Joanna Lumley to meet the Prime Minister.

"She was due to go on Newsnight tonight but they dropped it because Labour wouldn’t put anyone forward.

"One thousand years of democracy and this is what you get."

Campaigner Joanna Lumley, whose father was a major with the regiment, attended the meeting and was stunned by the result.

She told the Guardian newspaper: "I do not know what we have to do. I don’t know where else we have to go. We have gone to the high court, we have gone to the press, we have gone to the people and to parliament. All those people have backed the Gurkhas. Who do we go to next?"

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