BRITAIN should opt into the EU quota plan to take refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has said, as he accused the Prime Minister of merely media-managing the crisis.
During his main speech at his party’s conference in Bournemouth, he said the Government had so far only been in ‘media management mode’, and had failed to play its full part.
Yet he failed to give a number on exactly how many people should be welcomed into the country, while its European neighbours have already accepted to take in hundreds of thousands.
Germany alone will take 800,000 over the coming year, but the British Government currently is under no obligation to take a fixed number.
“I am calling on our Government to opt in now to the EU plan to take our share of the refugees to be relocated throughout the continent.
“And I call on them to work with our neighbours to establish safe and sustainable reception centres, not only to process claims but to provide the shelter and security which the refugees so desperately need,” said Mr Farron, who visited the Calais migrant camps earlier this summer.
A senior Lib Dem source said the party should be taking its share alongside other European nations and would accept whatever number was decided ‘collectively’ with them.
More money should also be given to council across Yorkshire to help settle refugees so as ‘not to set community against community’, he said.
He said: “I think about the Ugandan Asians offered a safe haven by our parents from that murderous tyrant, Idi Amin.
“And it makes me realise the pride I feel in Britain when we do show such generosity of spirit.
“But not only that.
“I realise how much richer – culturally, socially, economically – our society is today, because of our generosity then.”
Plans to build 300,000 homes a year, release £7bn for councils to borrow to help with construction and proposals for five new cities outside the South of England were other pledges made today.
In his parting shot to hundreds of members, Tim Farron delivered a speech heavy in music references, with much made of the fact he used to be in a band.
Using the line by Joni Mitchell “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone,” he said the Liberal Democrats in Government had been the tonic to Conservative policy on refugees, working families and the green agenda.
He also told people about his time at University in Newcastle where he ‘wrote a lot of sure-fire electropop masterpieces’ and just one or two essays.
Even popular show X-Factor got a mention, as he spoke about how he watches it with his family then likes nothing more than to ‘cleanse himself’ by listening to ‘Radio 6 for two solid hours afterwards’.
But he played down plans to re-instate its MPs in Westminster in 2020 after their crushing defeat in May where they were left with just eight members.
Despite bold claims of governing again, and sharing power, he said his first mission in the Lib Dem fightback was to put Lib Dems back in council seats across the North.
He said: “And we will start with next year’s elections for the Scottish Parliament, for the National Assembly in Wales, for the London Assembly, and for local government across the country.”