David Cameron is preparing to accept around 15,000 Syrian refugees and would like to commence military action against Islamic State (IS) militants within a month, senior sources have said.
Details of Britain’s refugee resettlement programme are currently being finalised after the Prime Minister scrambled to react to a perceived change in public mood following the publication of a photo of a dead Syrian child last week.
However, a new poll by YouGov out today shows that most people in the UK believe there should be no increase in admissions of Syrian refugees, and that concerns over immigration have reached an all-time high.
A figure as high as 20,000 has been discussed in Number 10, The Sunday Times reports, but Cameron’s “current thinking” is to settle 15,000 from the Syrian border in Britain. Up until now, it was thought that the UK would take 4,000, but the source said that 10,000 was now the “minimum not the maximum.”
However, Britain sill plans to reject the forced asylum quota system for resettling refugees already in the EU, which will be laid out by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, this week.
The government is developing a four-pronged strategy for tackling the crisis. It includes accepting the thousands of new refuges; launching a new military and intelligence offensive against people traffickers; diverting more foreign aid (on top of the £1bn the UK has already given to the Syrian war) to the crisis in a Whitehall spending review; and trying to persuade Labour MPs to back airstrikes.
This morning on the Andrew Marr Show, the chancellor George Osborne said, “the west has not done enough to contain ISIL.” In reference to Parliament voting not to bomb IS in Syria earlier in the year, he said: “Personally, I think that was one of the worst decisions the House of Commons has ever made.”
MPs will be debating the migrant crisis this Wednesday in an opposition day debate called by the Scottish National party (SNP). However, senior sources told The Sunday Times that Cameron is aiming to force a Commons vote on military action in the first week of October.
A majority of people in the UK are now in favor of military action in Syria. In a new YouGov opinion poll today for the Sun on Sunday, 52 per cent said they would back a greater role for UK forces in ending the civil war, with just 22 per cent opposed.
If Jeremy Corbyn becomes the new leader of the Labour party next week, as expected, the hard-left candidate is likely to do his best to resist any form of military intervention. However, some Labour MPs such as Tristan Hunt have hinted they will make a stand against Corbyn by voting for intervention, thus helping Cameron to win the vote despite his slim majority.
Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, said Cameron was wrong and taking in more migrants would only encourage others to risk their lives. “We are in danger of doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons,” he said.
He blamed Germany for the death of migrants such as the three year old boy photographed last week washed up on a beach in Turkey: “Germany killed those people. They don’t give anything like the amount of aid we do and to salve their consciences they open their border, encouraging people traffickers.”