by Stephen Tall on May 21, 2009
All Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years’ service will be allowed to settle in the UK, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said. Ms Smith told MPs she was “proud to offer this country’s welcome to all who have served in the brigade of Gurkhas”.
It comes after a high-profile campaign by Joanna Lumley and other supporters of Gurkha rights – and an embarrassing Commons defeat for the government.
Some 36,000 Gurkhas who left before 1997 had been denied UK residency. Ms Lumley, the actress who has been the public face of the campaign on behalf of the Gurkhas, said: “This is the welcome we have always longed to give.”
And here’s the statement from Nick Clegg, whose campaigning in Parliament did so much to highlight the Gurkhas’ plight:
I am absolutely thrilled that the Gurkhas have finally been given justice. This is a great victory for the Gurkhas and for everyone who has campaigned on their behalf.
“Gordon Brown has finally woken up to the principle that people across Britain understand instinctively: if someone is prepared to die for this country, they must be allowed to live in it. Tragically this decision will come too late for many of those brave Gurkhas who have been waiting so long to see justice done.
“Gordon Brown’s claim of a ‘moral compass’ rings hollow when, on every issue from Gurkhas to expenses, he has to be dragged every inch of the way towards doing the right thing.”