David Cameron's vow to take in just 12 refugees a day is 'embarrassing' and 'completely out of touch with public opinion'

Green party leader attacks Cameron's failure to match strength of public opinion with action on Syrian refugee crisis

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David Cameron has been accused of pursuing an "embarrassing" and "completely out of touch" response to the refugee crisis by promising to take in just 12 refugees a day until 2020.

A poll today revealed the full extent of the British public's outpouring of support for refugees, showing one in 14 people - the equivalent of almost two million UK households - would be prepared to offer a room or space in their home to a refugee.

Natalie Bennett, the Green party leader, said there was a massive disconnect between Mr Cameron and public opinion.

"Where David Cameron sees refugees as a problem and a threat, most people have been moved by the desperate situation these people are facing and have felt a desire to help," she told The Independent.

 

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Natalie Bennett was one of many political leaders who posed with Refugees Welcome signs in an effort to change Government policy

In a full-out attack by the Greens ahead of their autumn party conference, which begins on Friday in Bournemouth, the party's only MP Caroline Lucas accused ministers of "attempting to claim a moral high ground" but in reality "dragging its feet in taking the urgent action that's required to save lives".

It comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Mr Cameron of failing to reflect the British public's humanity in his government's response to the crisis.

Describing the Prime Minister as "feeble", Ms Lucas said: “Britain can and must do more to help Syrian refugees. David Cameron should reflect the generosity of the public and pledge to take in more people as soon as possible.

"He must also ensure that local authorities have the resources necessary over the coming years to ensure they can fully support new arrivals.”

Mr Cameron will tonight travel to Brussells for a crucial meeting with EU leaders on the growing humanitarian crisis engulfing Europe.

He is likely to come under pressure to explain why the UK has only pledged to take in 20,000 refugees from Syrian campas over the next five years and none from those already in Europe.

 

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David Cameron on a visit to a school in Beirut, Lebanon, where many Syrian refugees have fled to (PA)

Unlike most other EU countries, Britain will not be forced to take its fair share of refugees under the mandatory quota system that was voted through by EU governments last night.

The UK has an opt-out of justice and home affairs issues and therefore it is not obliged to participate in the relocation scheme. However Mr Cameron has faced calls to take part regardless, with the UN's migration representative Peter Sutherland accusing him of failing to recognise the difference between legal and moral obligations.

 

 

 

Ms Bennett, who joined Mr Corbyn on a Refugees Welcome rally in Parliament Square two weeks ago, told The Independent: “David Cameron’s promise to take in just 12 refugees per day until 2020 is nothing short of embarrassing, as other EU countries do all they can to welcome as many refugees as possible.

"Greens have long been pushing the government to accept Britain's fair share of refugees, which would be around 12 per cent of the total.

“This survey, as well as the enormous Refugees Welcome march that I joined in London earlier this month, proves that our government is completely out of touch with the public on this issue, and that people are willing to accept our fair share. Where David Cameron sees refugees as a problem and a threat, most people have been moved by the desperate situation these people are facing and have felt a desire to help.

“It is time the government listened to the people and showed the kindness and humanity that is so often lacking in its policymaking.”

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