Sunday, May 10, 2009
Sort out this Gurkha veterans mess
It's shocking and baffling how the British government can dither, delay and prevent granting older Gurkha veterans the right to resettle in Britain. There ought to be no question that these Nepalese soldiers who were prepared to put their lives on the line fighting in the British Army, not in defence of their own homeland but in British military campaigns, should be granted the right to live here if they so choose.
Gurkhas who retired after 1997 do have the right to resettle the UK but Gurkhas who stopped serving before that date do not. This is what the current campaign is fighting for.
Some interesting figures:
Maximum number of Gurkhas that might want to be resettled in the UK (includes every Gurkha claiming a pension plus 2 dependents each): 75,000
Estimated number of illegal immigrants in the UK: 725,000.
The disputed, worst-case scenario cost of resettling Gurkhas cited by Gordon Brown: £1.4billion.
Cost of war in Iraq in one year: £2 billion.
It should be simple and quick to sort this out: Grant older veterans the right to live here now. Many of them won't even take up the offer, they just want the dignity of having that right. Take the cost from the defence budget. And if the government feels it can no longer afford to grant Gurkha veterans this right, then just stop using them in the British Army. Simple, isn't it?
Story: Ministers in disarray as Gurkhas strike again