Many people have contacted me about the refugee crisis and my party’s position on helping those seeking safety from war and persecution.
I share the deep concern about the refugee crisis in Europe that we have witnessed in recent years, which has stemmed principally from the ongoing conflict in Syria and also from further instability in the surrounding region.
This Conservative Party’s response to the refugee crisis has not just been unsatisfactory, it has been shameful. The Liberal Democrats have always opposed the Conservatives mealy-mouthed approach to the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. To put this into perspective, the Government’s 20,000 refugee target is equivalent to around 0.4% of registered Syrian refugees in the region.
Under the Theresa May, the Conservatives have also u-turned on two previous pledges, one to take more refugees from Syria and another to help abandoned child refugees. I am proud that the Liberal Democrats are a party that welcomes refugees and accepts its responsibilities.
In our manifesto, the Liberal Democrats have set out a plan to take 50,000 refugees over five years from Syria in the next parliament, as well as reopening the Dubs programme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children stranded in Europe, and working with international partners to create safe and legal routes.
The Liberal Democrats will not let the refugee crisis slip from the agenda. The Liberal Democrats have always been an internationalist party and we will do our upmost to counter the dangerous nationalist and isolationist arguments that have been put forward on this issue. It is critical that the UK works with our neighbours, so that we may feed into the decision making process and deliver a united response to the refugee crisis here in Europe.
The Conservatives’ total reluctance to do so is not only damaging our reputation, it is limiting the ability to find a solution and extending the suffering of those who are making these desperate journeys.
I am more than happy to sign the Refugees Welcome Pledge. I believe this commitment is extremely important in outlining the support candidates should give to welcoming people forced to flee war and persecution and helping them rebuild their lives.