Cartoonists hit back at Immigration Minister’s ‘evil’ decision to paint over child-friendly murals
Some of Britain’s most celebrated cartoonists have defied the government’s crude attempt to deliver a hostile welcome to young unaccompanied child asylum seekers. Top cartoonists from the Professional Cartoonists Organisation (PCO), including The Metro and Spectator cartoonist, Guy Venables; Quentin Blake, famous for the Roald Dahl book illustrations and Adam Hargreaves the Mister Men cartoonist, joined forces to compile a 62 page Welcome to Britain colouring book, to be distributed to newly arrived refugee children.
The book was inspired after government immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, ordered staff to paint over a child-friendly mural which was painted on the walls of the Kent Intake Unit (KIU) - a reception centre for unaccompanied child asylum seekers. The order to cover-up the images, which displayed pictures of Mickey Mouse and images from the Jungle Book, was given on the basis that they were considered too welcoming and to be ‘sending the wrong message’. The minister’s actions caused a public outcry and a collection of high profile cartoonists became enraged when their attempts to repaint the murals was also blocked.
'Hostile environment has become so entrenched'
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council responded to the news of Jendrick’s actions by saying:
‘This demonstrates that the hostile environment has become so entrenched, that today we have lost sight of humanity’
Jo Maugham, Director at the Good Law Project, decribed Robert Jendrick as:
‘a man so utterly lacking in humanity that he goes out of his way to make life more unpleasant for the most vulnerable children in the world’
Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, described as inhumane, petty and daft
Mister Men’s Adam Hargreaves, described the uncaring nature of Robert Jenrick’s response as ‘astonishingly petty and daft’. He suggested that Jenrick presented all the characteristics of a music hall villain and he said:
‘It was the behavior of a caricature villain, stroking his evil mouthstache while having he orphans put on the street. I am very glad it has backfired’
Robert Jenrick, responded to the widespread condemnation - which included expressions of shock from fellow Tory MPs who were ‘appalled’ by his actions, by saying:
‘You don’t measure compassion by the decoration of a particular site in which people enter. You measure compassion by your determination to stop the boats in the first place’
A flood of support from Cartoonists
Once the idea for the book was floated as many as 50 cartoonists offered to provide cartoons to be included in the publication. Guy Venebles described the book as historic. He said:
‘It’ll be a piece of history in a way. I can’t help thinking it something you just want to keep hold of…its very much in our nature when we see things that are injustices, its how we work to say ‘No, we don’t want to do that anymore’’
He suggested that Jendrick’s decision was ‘evil’ and accused the Home Office of ‘nose-diving into appealing to their lowest voters’
A spokesperson for refugee charity Care4Calais, Project Manager, Charlotte Khan said:
‘If Mickey Mouse is too ‘welcoming’ for ministers, the question is what will they replace him with in order to inflict more fear on traumatised asylum seeking children – Maleficent? Ursula? Maybe even Cruella herself? The real villains in this sorry tale are Robert Jenrick and the rest of this heartless bunch that call themselves ministers’