PM’s Gurkha “misjudgment” condemned

The government will not change residency rules for Gurkha veterans, Gordon Brown told MPs this afternoon.

The prime minister is due to receive a box of medals handed in by Gurkha soldiers, demonstrating outside Westminster, frustrated with the 1997 threshold for the soldiers’ rights.

Gurkhas who retired after that date are entitled to a full British Army pension and can gain UK citizenship, unlike those retiring before then.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg addressed the protestors outside the Commons and believes all Gurkhas, who have been fighting for Britain since 1851, “deserve the highest recognition for their bravery and commitment”.

In prime minister’s questions today Mr Clegg demanded to know “why on Earth he believes that Gurkhas who served. after 1997 after worth British citizenship but those who served before that date should be deported”.

Mr Brown responded by paying tribute to the Gurkhas, who he said had done a “tremendous job for our country”. He singled out those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan for special praise.

The prime minister pointed out the current government was the first to have given Gurkhas the right to a pension, equal pay and residency rights for those who have served four years in the army.

And he explained the 1997 date was explained by Gurkhas being based in Britain from that date, having previously been based in Hong Kong.

Mr Clegg dismissed this answer as a “spectacular misjudgment”, saying Mr Brown had responded with “a technical argument on a moral issue”.