Refugee crisis: Emma Thompson claims Britain is 'racist' for not taking in more refugees

Her comments came before the pictures of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who washed up on a beach in Turkey, emerged on Wednesday

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The Independent Online

Emma Thompson has claimed Britain is not taking in enough refugees because the public is racist, and they would feel differently if the people in need were “white Europeans”.

In the interview for Newsnight - which took place before the harrowing images of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi made front pages across the world - Thompson said the UK must open its doors to more refugees.

"The idea of 3,000 people in Calais who have been through unspeakable things makes me feel very ashamed," she said.

"We're not even missing our quotas. That’s really shaming. So I think it's got a lot to do with racism.

"If these people were white, European, that were coming from some dictatorship in Bosnia … I think we would feel quite differently about it."


The growing humanitarian crisis that is overflowing into Europe has seen prominent figures from JK Rowling to David Blunkett backing The Independent’s campaign urging David Cameron to do more to help refugees.

Thompson's remarks come after Britain opted out of EN and EU schemes that would allow 160,000 refugees to be spread across the European Union, including Austria, Germany, Poland and Spain.

David Cameron has argued that opening the door to more refugees is not the answer to the crisis, although he was 'deeply moved' by the harrowing image of Kurdi.

He says Britain will continue to let in "thousands" of refugees and but the country needs to run its asylum system properly.

But Thompson said it wasn’t good enough.

"There’s 3,000 of them in Calais. That’s nothing. We’ve got plenty of room for them," she said.

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