05:34PM, Wednesday 25 November 2020
An opposition councillor has been criticised for making ‘imperialistic’ comments during a debate over the immigration status of Commonwealth veterans.
Veterans without British citizenship who have served as part of the Commonwealth currently have to apply to continue living in the UK when their service ends.
But visa application costs have risen over the last five years from £1,051 in 2015 to £2389, a Slough Borough Council meeting was told last night.
Councillors discussed a motion from the Slough Labour Group calling on the Government to scrap immigration fees for servicemen and women who are eligible to remain in the UK.
But Conservative councillor Dexter Smith told the meeting the motion lacked ‘common sense’ and had no relevance to the present day.
He said: “Many British passports are still highly valued and will remain so for as long as they are hard to get.
“Military service should not be a backdoor way of getting a British passport by non-nationals.”
He added: “Next Labour will be telling us that we should gain Icelandic citizenship for working four years for a certain retailer.”
Labour councillors hit back, with deputy leader Sabia Akram (Lab, Elliman) saying she was disgusted by the remarks.
Cllr Pavitar Mann (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) said: “My colleagues have rightly pointed out how disgraceful and despicable some of those comments are.
“He (Cllr Smith) is either woefully misinformed and misunderstood the premise of the motion or he is intentionally being condescending and imperialistic.”
Opposition leader Councillor Wayne Strutton (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) told the meeting the Labour Group should be focusing on local issues rather than national and international ones.
Councillors voted in favour of lobbying the Government to scrap the immigration fees with Cllr Smith voting against and four people abstaining.
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