UK MEPs tell Cameron to opt in to EU-wide solution to refugee crisis

MEPs from Labour, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have written a joint letter to David Cameron today calling for the UK to opt in to an EU-wide refugee relocation scheme.

Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, said:

“The prime minister should be leading efforts for a common EU plan for relocation and resettlement of refugees – not acting in isolation, weeks after Germany and other countries have taken the lead.

“We need a long-term solution, with Britain opting into a comprehensive EU plan to tackle a crisis which is likely to go on for some time and will require solidarity on refugees and measures to halt people-smuggling and the root causes.”

The letter to Mr Cameron says:

“As MEPs representing the views of the British public in Europe we are ashamed of the government’s weak stance on the current refugee crisis.

“We recognise that your promise to take in 4,000 refugees a year directly from camps bordering Syria is an improvement on the government’s previous position. However, this number does not match the scale of the crisis we are facing and does nothing to help those refugees already on European soil.

“In the European Parliament today, MEPs will debate plans to share asylum seekers arriving in Italy, Greece and Hungary more evenly among EU countries. Under these plans it is expected that France would take in 24,000 refugees over two years and Germany 31,000. In comparison, your government is refusing to take even a single refugee under this scheme.

“Your continued refusal to take part in a European response is unfair on these desperate refugees who have already suffered so much. It also risks alienating our friends and partners in the EU.

“We urge you to listen to the views of European experts on the issue of relocation and to revise your response accordingly. The only way to respond to the refugee crisis effectively is by working together. Acting alone will ensure that this humanitarian disaster haunts our consciences and revisits us in the months and years to come.”