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Tim Farron: David Cameron taking 'inhuman' approach to migration crisis

Published 19/09/2015

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron criticised the Government's response to the refugee crisis
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron criticised the Government's response to the refugee crisis

David Cameron has been accused by Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron of taking an "inhuman" approach to the European migration crisis.

In a strongly worded attack Mr Farron condemned the "dehumanising" language used by the Prime Minister and criticised the Government's response to the situation.

The Lib Dem leader said Mr Cameron's refusal to co-operate with European partners on a resettlement scheme was "turning our back" on our neighbours on the continent.

Speaking at a refugee art project in Poole, Mr Farron condemned the Government's plan to accept 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years.

He said: "It is certainly not right that over a period of five years we end up accepting as many people as Germany is taking in a weekend.

"Not only does that mean that we are showing an inhuman face to desperate people who deserve and need help, but we also show a completely uncollegiate face to the rest of Europe.

"If you look at what is happening in the Balkans now, that is an example and it's the outcome of the European Union not having a single approach to all of this."

Party members later agreed a policy motion insisting the Government should "significantly increase" the number of refugees resettled in the UK.

It said it should be easier for refugees to come to the UK if they already have family here and said Britain should be part of EU schemes to share the burden around the continent.

Home Affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael told the conference: "This is a defining moment for our Prime Minister. Will he live up to the talk of British values? Or is the talk just exactly that?

"The history of the immigration and asylum debate in Britain has not always been a good one. Too often it has been inward looking and occasionally poisonous.

"This is a moment to rewrite the rules of that debate and this party must be at the front of leading that change."

During his visit to the refugee project, Mr Farron chatted to Sudanese doctor Amir Ali Bob, who fled the African country after attempts on his life.

After talking to the refugee and his wife Wegdan, Mr Farron said: "It is a reminder of what life is like for most of the desperate people who fill our television screens every night.

"So often we hear, from David Cameron and others, demeaning and dehumanising language which actually lessens all of us.

"I want to say, on behalf of what I think is most decent British people, that refugees are people we have a proud history of welcoming and Amir and his family are a perfect example of hard-working, decent people desperate to get away from tyranny and persecution."

The Lib Dem leader added: "These are not faceless people. Nobody clings to the bottom of a truck and risks their life without a jolly good reason. They certainly don't take these immensely difficult, painful, death-defying journeys to go and scrounge benefits off us."

Mr Farron, a devout Anglican, was asked whether there was a Christian duty to take in refugees. "I guess you believe everybody is of absolutely equal value and if you think that, you should want to do for others what you would want them to do for you in the same circumstances, then of course you should.

"But I think that applies to people who think and believe very different things."

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