Refugee crisis survey: Britain should be a place of refuge for those in need, public says

New survey finds most people think David Cameron has done a bad job of handling the growing European refugee crisis

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The Independent Online

Support for the idea that Britain should be a place of refuge for people fleeing war and persecution has risen dramatically since the start of the summer, a survey has found.

A YouGov poll, carried out after images of the body of Aylan Kurdi sparked international outrage over the plight of Syrian refugees, found that 43 per cent of the public believes the UK should serve as a safe destination for asylum-seekers.

A third of Britons disagreed that the UK should be “a place of refuge”, while around one in five either didn’t know or neither agreed nor disagreed.

It represents a marked turnaround from a similar set of questions posed around the time of the general election in May. Then, just a third said Britain should offer refuge to those facing persecution and 42 per cent disagreed.

Immigration was overwhelmingly deemed the most important issue facing Britain at this time, according to 71 per cent of those surveyed. In May, only half of Britons named immigration among the biggest issues at the time.

David Cameron bowed to pressure on Friday and agreed to provide homes for “thousands” of Syrian refugees in Britain, with more details expected to be provided when the House of Commons returns on Monday.

In a separate YouGov poll for The Sun, the company asked more than 1,500 people how well they felt the Prime Minister had handled the European refugee crisis.

Of those who expressed an opinion, only 21 per cent thought he had done well – and only 4 per cent said “very well”. More than double, 45 per cent, said he had done badly, 25 per cent saying “very badly”.

According to the Press Association, 2,000 Britons have offered to put up refugees in their own homes as part of an almost unprecedented outpouring of support since last Wednesday.

Dr Zoe Fritz, a consultant at Cambridge University Hospital, said she set up an online database for people to volunteer a spare room hoping for “600, maybe 1,000 people” to come forward.

She said she had been brought to tears by the response. “It really is absolutely inspiring and great to see,” she said. “People are really standing up and saying we care about these terribly vulnerable people who need aid.”

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