Tory rebels back amendment to allow young Hong Kongers to move to UK
Nearly 30 Tory MPs are backing a rebel amendment to allow young Hong Kongers to come to Britain.
The MPs, led by Damian Green, are seeking to open up the British visa scheme to those aged 18 to 25, many of whom have been involved in pro-democracy protests against the Chinese.
They are currently unable to apply independently to the scheme which is closed to those born after the British colony was handed back to the Chinese in 1997, unless their parents bring them as part of their family.
Twenty-seven Conservative MPs have backed the amendment, including Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Andrew Mitchell, the former International Development Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, and father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley.
The amendment is due to be debated on Tuesday and Johnny Patterson, policy director of Hong Kong Watch, warned: “If the Government isn't willing to adopt it, they will find their majority under threat.”
Research published earlier this week by Hong Kong Watch showed that 93 per cent of those who have faced protest-related charges by the Chinese are aged between 18 and 25.
“We have seen 200 young people in that cohort seeking asylum. This amendment would alleviate the burden in the asylum system that could get worse as prosecutions ramp up in Hong Kong,” said Mr Patterson.
It follows Oxford University research this week that showed Hong Kongers applying to come to Britain are younger, wealthier and more educated than those planning to remain.
The system, which offers up to 5.4 million Hong Kongers a five-year visa and a path to permanent British citizenship, was opened on January 31 after China’s new security laws were introduced last year.
Home Office figures show that 88,000 Hong Kongers have applied for Britain’s bespoke five-year visa scheme in the 10 months since it was launched.