The former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has joined Labour in criticising the Government for failing to accept more refugees from the conflict in Syria.
The Independent revealed that ministers had decided not to join 16 countries, including the United States, France and Germany, which have pledged to allow a total of more than 10,000 refugees from the three-year civil war to move to their countries.
The Government’s position has been criticised by Labour and aid agencies who said it was akin to stating that “there’s no room at the inn”.
Today Sir Menzies said it was “unfortunate” that Britain had not followed the lead of nations like the US, France and Germany in receiving asylum seekers.
“It’s unfortunate, to put it as mildly as I possibly can, that we have closed our minds to that possibility when other countries in Europe have taken a much more generous position,” he told the BBC’s World at One.
Mr Campbell’s view represents that of many of his colleagues in the Liberal Democrats who would like the Government to take a more hospitable view towards Syrian refugees.
But Conservatives are concerned that will Romanians and Bulgarians being allowed to work in Britain for January 1 it would be electorally unpopular to take in large number of refugees.
The Refugee Council has said only about 0.1 per cent of Syrians fleeing the violence had found safety in the UK.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, told The Independent that Britain should “do our part” to provide a safe haven for some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees fleeing this murderous conflict.
“The British Government cannot turn its back on these people. It is our moral duty to respond to the UN’s call for help for Syrian refugees – just as our country has helped those fleeing persecution for hundreds of years,” she said.