SNP home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry urged the Government to accept proposals to protect child refugees after Brexit or risk "tragic consequences".

During the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill's second day of committee stage scrutiny in the Commons, Cherry spoke in favour of amendments which would enhance protections for lone children.

The latest version of the bill dropped the previous government's acceptance of a Lords amendment from Labour peer Lord Dubs which would require the Government to support unaccompanied children from across Europe.

She told MPs: "Right now, across Europe, there are thousands of unaccompanied children living in the most desperate circumstances, many of whom are separated from their families.

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"And legal family reunion is a lifeline to these children who would otherwise risk their lives in dinghies or in the back of lorries in order to reach a place of safety with their family."

She added: "For the Government to seek to remove those protections now risks causing panic amongst refugee families currently separated in Europe with potentially tragic consequences."

Former Tory minister Tim Loughton said "just bunging it in this bill" is not the right way to support child refugees.

He added: "I trust the Government that this commitment will be stuck to in the appropriate place, which is an immigration bill."

The East Worthing and Shoreham MP said the whole scheme needs to be "properly overhauled," adding: "Just bunging it in this Bill is not necessarily the best way of getting the best result, which all actually want."

Responding, Cherry said: "The answer to that is that the whole scheme is not bunged in this bill.

The National: Joanna Cherry

"The obligation to maintain certain minimum-level requirements is being taken out by this bill when it was agreed on by cross-party members."

She added: "There's a very legitimate concern that taking out this previous commitment in this Bill is the beginning of a move towards an absolute minimalist approach from this Government."

Former chairman of the Justice Select Committee, Sir Bob Neill, said he is "concerned" about clause 26 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill which allows Government ministers to specify the circumstances in which lower courts can depart from the rulings of higher courts.

Tory Neill pressed ministers for more detail and explanation as to the need for the clause, adding that it "has raised concern by many lawyers, regardless of political view".

While saying that he understood there could be circumstances when the UK may need to depart from EU law, he added: "My concern is that the formulation the Government have chosen in relation to clause 26 to start with does have the potential of upsetting the well-established hierarchy and system of binding precedent which has characterised English Common Law".

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Stating that the current precedent "gives certainty" as lower courts cannot depart from the decisions of higher courts, he added: "That is something that has served us well for centuries, it is not something that we should lightly depart from."

Neill said: "I'm just a little concerned, without more explanation, that the Government might risk getting to a stage where inadvertently, I have no doubt, perhaps for the sake of speed, they may in fact undermine that very valuable asset."

Cherry added that the clause could be "an act of revenge on the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Supreme Court of Scotland for daring to defy the previous Conservative government for ruling its unlawful prorogation out of order".

Cherry has called for the Government to guarantee the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family living in the UK after Brexit.

She told MPs: "If we believe children seeking international protection are best placed with their families then let's allow it to happen in the United Kingdom."

Calling for the Government to "explain what they're up to", she added: "Are we seriously saying that in the unlikely event that the European Union decides to play bad cop, Britain, global Britain, won't take these children?"

Former chairwoman of the Home Affairs Committee Yvette Cooper said the notion of reuniting unaccompanied children with their families was a "very sensible" one.

The National: Labour MP Yvette Cooper (Joe Giddens/PA)

Cooper said: "The thing that is so troubling about what the Government has chosen to do, is they have chosen to remove obligations in the previous 2018 Act that everyone had accepted, that had been supported by Government ministers, by this House, as just a very sensible objective to negotiate an agreement to make sure that some of those vulnerable children could simply be reunited with those families."

She added that it is "inexplicable" that the Government should wish to take this right away in the current bill.

Shadow Brexit minister Thangam Debbonaire called for MPs to be given a greater role in shaping the UK's future relationship with the EU.

She spoke in support of Labour-backed amendments on transparency around the Northern Ireland protocol, child refugees and parliamentary scrutiny.

Debbonaire said: "The Government has totally removed the process of parliamentary scrutiny over the negotiations for the future relationship with the EU."

Tory backbencher Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West) criticised Labour in their call for greater oversight, by saying "for most of the time there was nobody there at all" on the opposite benches.

Debbonaire responded: "I think the honourable gentleman is very well aware that the Labour Party had leadership hustings last night and that the frontbench was here and fully engaged."