MPs have voted against a plan to allow 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children into the UK, 294 to 276. The cross-party amendment to the Immigration Bill was headed by Lord Dubs, who himself arrived into the UK as a refugee after fleeing from the Nazis in 1930s.

Dubs argued that children who had already stranded in Europe, in locations like the "Jungle" camp in Calais, should be allowed into Britain. The move was backed by Labour, Lib Dems, the SNP and five Conservative voters – Geoffrey Cox, Tania Mathis, Stephen Phillips, Will Quince and David Warburton – but the move was rejected by a margin of 18 as nearly 289 Tory MPs voted against the motion.

One of those who voted against the motion, Home Office minister James Brokenshire, said the government should not back a policy that would "create a situation in which families see an advantage in sending children alone, ahead and in the hands of traffickers, putting their lives at risk by attempting treacherous sea crossings to Europe which would be the worst of all outcomes".

He added: "The best way to make a difference and to help the greatest numbers of those in need is to support the majority of refugees to enable them to stay safely in their home region."

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said, following the vote, that the government has "closed their eyes to those in need". He added: "Britain has consistently stood up for the best in human nature - it has opened its doors with the Kindertransport to those escaping Nazi brutality and again to Ugandans fleeing Idi Amin's brutal regime. Tonight the government have dishonoured that legacy."

Kirsty McNeill, director of advocacy and dampaigns at Save the Children, described the decision as "deeply disappointing". She said: "Tonight, across Europe, thousands of these children are alone and frightened as they go to sleep on roadsides, in police cells and in informal camps. Some are as young as ten and many of them have fled war and persecution to seek refuge in Europe – they need our help.

"This problem isn't going away, it is getting worse. The government has not yet responded to the groundswell of public support and MPs of all parties who have called for the UK to offer safety to lone children in Europe. As this legislation returns to the House of Lords, parliament still has a chance to live up to Britain's proud history of reaching out a hand to the most vulnerable children who need our help."

Full list of MPs who votes against Immigration Bill amendment