CHARM OFFENSIVE PRIME MINISTER SURRENDERS TO LUMLEY ; Joanna, You Are Absolutely Right about the Gurkhas That's Fabulous, Gordon [Edition 2]
Bentham, Martin, The Evening Standard (London, England)
THE body language says it all. This is the moment when even the notoriously dour Prime Minister could not resist the charms of Joanna Lumley and finally caved in over the Gurkhas.
After weeks of resisting the pleas of veterans from the Nepalese regiment that they should all be allowed the right to settle in the UK, the Government today announced that it was giving up its fight to limit numbers.
The climbdown was announced in Parliament shortly after a meeting between Mr Brown and Lumley in Downing Street, at which the actress was briefed on the new rules.
As she emerged from No10 to break the news, Lumley said: "Today for the first time in my life I cannot have words. We feel outstandingly optimistic. It couldn't be a better day. It was an excellent meeting, generous, affectionate -- I can't really think of the word. It was superb, a superb meeting.
"We have got an amnesty on the past ... yesterday is over, it is today and the future."
The retreat over the Gurkhas was confirmed in a Commons statement by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
It follows a public outcry, led by Lumley, over rules announced by ministers which would have restricted the right of veterans who retired before 1997 to live in the UK.
The Government claimed that up to 4,300 would have been entitled to come to this country under these changes, but campaigners said the true figure would have been far lower. …