Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, has criticised the Prime Minister for his failure to recognise the changed public mood towards welcoming asylum seekers and his refusal to convene a cross-party summit on the refugee crisis.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael said:
“I recognise and welcome the change in Government policy in recent days and weeks. The Prime Minister might no longer be describing refugees as a “swarm”, but there is still a lot that he could be doing to catch up with public opinion here. We should not be raiding our international development budget to pay for this, we should not be restricting our help to those who are currently in the country, and we should not be resisting efforts to build a common EU position. The people of Britain do not want to see the human misery of hundreds of thousands of people being used as a political football; they want a non-partisan approach. May I therefore suggest that the Prime Minister convene a summit of the leadership of all the parties represented in this House, so that we can construct a policy for the reaction to this crisis that will unite our country rather than dividing it?”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Carmichael said:
“Some of us have been trying for months now to highlight the inhumanity of the government's failure to address the unfolding human tragedy involving refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. Just weeks ago they cut the already meagre support given to asylum seekers pending a decision in their application. It went virtually unnoticed. That has changed now. The people of Britain have seen the human cost of this crisis and have been moved as I always believed they would be. The government's response now needs to reflect that.
“The UK Government has done a lot of good work in helping refugees in the region, especially around Syria. I give them all credit for that. The fact is that they need to do more now. They need to respond to the thousands of people already in Europe.
“The truth is that this debate has been a poisonous one too often in the past. The Prime Minister has a chance now to build a consensus by involving all parties in the creation of policy that unites rather than divides our country.”