UK

Dowden urged to ‘look into soul’ and condemn painting-over of children’s mural

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA) Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

An MP has called upon the Deputy Prime Minister to delve into the depths of his soul and condemn the Home Office’s decision to paint over an asylum centre children’s mural.

The SNP’s Pete Wishart criticised the lack of compassion and concern demonstrated by ministers in response to what he described as a “grotesque” ask.

The decision to paint over murals of cartoon characters, including Mickey Mouse and Baloo from The Jungle Book, at an asylum seeker reception centre in Kent was made by immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who reportedly felt they were too “welcoming”.

Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday, though, Mr Jenrick said the murals were painted over because they were not “age appropriate” for the majority of the young people staying there.

When challenged by Mr Wishart at Prime Minister’s Questions, Oliver Dowden emphasised the Government’s determination to combat the “vile” people smuggling trade and condemned those involved in exploiting vulnerable women and children.

Perth and North Perthshire MP Mr Wishart told the Commons: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite so grotesque as the painting-over of Mickey Mouse on a children’s mural, as was done by the Home Office in a detention centre in Kent.

“No minister so far has raised the necessary compassion or concern to speak out about this.

“So can I ask the Deputy Prime Minister to look into the deeper recesses of his soul and just simply condemn it?”

Mr Dowden replied: “I’ll tell him what real compassion looks like and that means stopping the vile people smuggling trade across the Channel condemning women and children to death.

“This Government is taking action to deal with it, with our stop the boats bill, and that party shamefully 18 times last night voted against it.”