Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, has called on the Government to start admitting refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war into Britain.
Mr Farage, who has been at the forefront of the opposition to migrants from Bulgaria and Romania being granted free access to the UK, said that those displaced by conflict are in a very different position to those wanting to enter the country from Europe.
“I think refugees are a very different thing to economic migration and I think that this country should honour the spirit of the 1951 declaration on refugee status that was agreed,” he told BBC News.
“It was agreed with the UN and even through the European Court, which sadly has changed its role. But the original ideas of defining what a refugee is were good ones.
“I think actually there is a responsibility on all of us in the free West to try and help some of those people in Syria fleeing literally in fear of their lives.”
The Government has consistently rejected calls to take in Syrian refugees, arguing that it is better to provide financial support to people in the region.
Mr Farage's intervention came after the three main party leaders - David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg - last week issued a rare joint statement backing the United Nations' £4 billion appeal for assistance.
Earlier this month, Germany offered to admit 5,000 more refugees into the country - on top of 5000 already promised and 18,000 asylum requests granted since 2011.
Jordan meanwhile has taken in over half a million and Lebanon up to one million people displaced by the conflict.Reuse content