A Conservative MP has referred to refugees fleeing the Middle East as a “tsunami” that could “swamp Europe”.
Sir Bill Cash, the chair of parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee, accused Britain’s European allies of not doing enough to prevent people from travelling to the continent. He boasted that Britain had done more.
“Germany, despite all the hype, has not done anywhere like as well as the United Kingdom in respect to the money we’ve provided to the world food programme,” he said in the House of Commons.
“Some of their policies have clearly been orientated to assisting their own internal economic problems and [the Home Secretary] should have a word with her counterpart to ensure that Germany does actually step up to the mark in doing the sort of things that are going to help stop the tsunami of millions of people who could well come over here and swamp Europe.”
Germany’s vice-chancellor has said it could cope with taking a million refugees this year, and around half a million for the next few years.
The UK has by comparison pledged to take 4,000 refugees a year and opted out of the EU’s relocation scheme. Britain has however provided more financial aid to the region than most other countries.
Sir Bill's’s hydraulic metaphor for refugees travelling to Europe echoes a widely criticised comment by David Cameron last month, who described the people as a “swarm”.
Former Ukip MEP Janice Atkinson said earlier this month that Syria refugees were simply "a massive crisis of illegal immigration which must be resisted for what it is".
In response to Sir Bill's question, Home Secretary Theresa May said direct aid to the war-torn region was important because it would prevent the number of people wanting to leave.
“I think we can be justifiably proud of what we have done in this … I think we’re actually giving about double what German gives in aid to refugees in the region,” she said.
“The reason that is important is because it helps people stay in the region where many people want to be and that they are not encouraged to make the perilous journey which we have seen sadly, including for some very young children, has led to their loss of life.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies