Local Conservative MP Caroline Ansell has been branded a “hypocrite” by Liberal Democrat challenger Josh Babarinde OBE, after voting to criminalise those who come to the UK to seek sanctuary.

MPs held 13 votes on the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill on Tuesday, including votes on specific new laws that would: 

· Criminalise those fleeing the countries for their lives for coming to the UK to seek asylum.

· “Offshore” asylum seekers by sending them abroad while their claims are processed.

· Create a second class of refugees with fewer rights and only temporary protection.

The Liberal Democrats are opposing the Bill, pointing out that it would criminalise Ukrainians who come to the UK to seek asylum, with sentences of up to four years in prison.

Despite her professed support for Ukrainian refugees in recent weeks, Mrs Ansell voted in support of each of these new laws, while Liberal Democrat MPs voted to remove them from the Bill. A small number of Conservative MPs did rebel against the Government on some of the votes, but Mrs Ansell was not among them.

Responding to the votes, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Councillor Josh Babarinde OBE said:

“I am shocked at Caroline Ansell. This is a new low for a Tory MP who remains loyal to Boris Johnson’s Government. 

“The Conservatives’ Anti-Refugee Bill is dangerous and cruel. People in Eastbourne have shown enormous compassion and generosity recently for those fleeing Putin’s war in Ukraine.  Yet at the same time our local Conservative MP criminalised those fleeing war from other countries. 

“The local Conservative MP had started to offer rhetoric about welcoming refugees, but when it came down to it she voted to criminalise people fleeing their countries for their lives and to slam the door in their faces. It’s hypocrisy pure and simple.

“Eastbourne has a great history of providing sanctuary to desperate people fleeing war and persecution. Our town deserves an MP who will uphold that proud British tradition.”