London, May 22 (ANI): A fish and chips and champagne supper at her London home followed by a goodnight kiss is said to have sealed a deal between actress Joanna Lumley and the British Government to ensure the Gurkhas got residency rights in the United Kingdom.
Lumley played host to Immigration Minister Phil Woolas and is said to have convinced him to end the stand-off over Gurkha residency rights.
“I’m pleased to say we kissed on the doorstep, so there we are. A great injustice has been righted. The Gurkhas are coming home,” The Independent quoted Lumley, as saying.
The Gordon Brown Government’s effective surrender on the issue in the face of a hugely popular campaign came in a Commons statement by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on Thursday afternoon.
A little later, surrounded by more than 100 former soldiers the Prime Minister talked of his “great privilege” in welcoming the “bravest of all” to Britain.
Gordon Brown also paid tribute to the actress Joanna Lumley who has been the high-profile public face in the fight for Gurkha rights.
He said: ” She has been very persuasive and she has charmed not only the Cabinet, but the whole country.”
She said: “I would like to pay tribute to Gordon Brown the Prime Minister, a brave man who has made a brave decision on behalf of the bravest of the brave. This is a fantastic day for my brothers and sisters. It is so thrilling to have overcome something which has gone on for so long. We knew it would be something good – but this is the best.”
Some campaigners felt kissing Mr Woolas went way beyond the call of duty, but the veterans said they appreciated the work done by the actress, whose father served with the Gurkhas, in securing their victory.
Mohan Bahadur Rai, who had been in the Army for 11 years, said: “We went through some very difficult times on this, and Miss Joanna was always there with us, so we want to thank her for her help. We feel this has been a great achievement for everyone.”
Samser Jang Khastri, 58, who lost a foot after stepping on a landmine in Bosnia in 1997 said yesterday’s decision has made “all my pain worthwhile.” (ANI)