Alison Thewliss Letter to Rishi Sunak on Robert Jenrick

Dear Rishi,

I am writing to you in your capacity as arbiter of conduct of Ministers.

I wish to highlight the conduct of the Minister for Immigration, Robert Jenrick MP in the House of Commons chamber on 27th June. Mr Jenrick made the claim that no refugees are housed in Scotland, and a further claim that no asylum seekers are housed in Scotland. Given the opportunity to correct this demonstrably false statement on the record, he declined. 

This conduct is of the utmost seriousness. The UK Government’s ministerial code states: “It is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”

Home Office data from 2020 to 2021 published last year showed Scotland took in around 13% of all refugees resettled in the UK during that period – well above our proportion of the UK’s population of 8%.

The Home Office’s most recent quarterly figures show Glasgow remains the local authority with the most dispersed asylum seekers (70 per 10,000 residents), followed by Birmingham (17 per 10,000), and Hillingdon (18 per 10,000).

Scotland has also taken in 20% of all Ukrainian arrivals under the Homes for Ukrainian scheme and the Scottish Government Super Sponsor scheme.

Following the crisis in Syria in 2015, Scottish local authorities welcomed asylum seekers and by early 2020 there were over 3500 individuals in all 32 of Scotland’s local authority areas, under the Syrian Resettlement programme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme.

Mr Jenrick’s conduct has not only breached the Ministerial Code, but caused great offence to communities in Scotland. 

The Scottish Refugee Council were unequivocal in their condemnation of Mr Jenrick’s actions:

“We are truly shocked by the wild inaccuracies shared here by immigration minister Robert Jenrick. The minister is either knowingly lying or is not aware that Scotland welcomes thousands of people seeking sanctuary each year. We are not sure which is more concerning. With the proposal of the inhumane Illegal Migration Bill and the increase in far-right rhetoric, including from the UK government, it is vital that we call out these blatant falsehoods.”

I urge you to consider the Minister’s position.

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