Push to expand BNO lifeboat schemes

British parliamentarians are urging London to extend the British National (Overseas) pathway to Hongkongers born after 1997. The parliament debated over the Hong Kong human rights situation ahead of the second anniversary of the June 12 clashes between protesters and police outside the...

Sophie Hui

Friday, June 11, 2021

British parliamentarians are urging London to extend the British National (Overseas) pathway to Hongkongers born after 1997.

The parliament debated over the Hong Kong human rights situation ahead of the second anniversary of the June 12 clashes between protesters and police outside the Legislative Council.

A cross-party group of MPs then proposed extending the BNO visa to those born after 1997.

The debate was initiated by Conservative MP Tom Randal, who welcomed the pathway for Hongkongers to get full citizenship.

But he said the country "could and must do so much more on all fronts," including supporting those who do not qualify for the scheme.

Iain Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party, said assistance should also be offered to students who are now "vulnerable to arrest."

Smith added: "We should work with like-minded partners to ensure that there are lifeboat schemes."

He called on the Bar Council to tell British judges in Hong Kong to "draw stumps and come home."

Smith added: "I question why British judges are still earning a living in Hong Kong. I believe it is no longer possible for them to argue that they are modifying or ameliorating the situation. All they are doing is giving, in a sense, a bit of succor to a brutal, intolerant and debased regime."

Another Conservative MP, Andrew Rosindell, said the government should "make an exception to those born after 1997 who cannot come over as dependents." Labour's shadow minister for Asia and the Pacific Stephen Kinnock said there must be "a clear route to citizenship" for those born after 1997. He also called for British judges to leave Hong Kong and for the government to provide more support to those moving to Britain.

In response, minister of state for Asia Nigel Adams said young people without BNO status can apply to live, work or study in Britain through routes like the youth mobility scheme.

Separately, the European Union said it may send a delegation to Hong Kong due to the city's political overhaul, regarding it as evidence of China breaching its international commitments.

But the SAR government rejected the "unfounded accusations." A spokesman said changes to the electoral system are "timely and necessary as anti-China forces had created chaos in Legco, paralyzed government operations and colluded with external forces to undermine Hong Kong's safety and interests."

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com