Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the government will “do more” in response to Europe’s migration crisis, indicating that the UK could take thousands of refugees from Syria in the coming months.
City A.M. understands that Downing Street officials are urgently looking at the current policies surrounding asylum-seekers, and that new plans could be announced as soon as today.
Any changes will indicate a U-turn for the Prime Minister, who has maintained over the summer that Britain would not increase its share of asylum-seekers, despite the scenes of desperation in Budapest, Calais, and along the Mediterranean coast.
Cameron was also pushed by German leader Angela Merkel, who expects to take in 800,000 asylum seekers in 2015 compared with the UK’s goal of 1,000.
But Cameron came under increased domestic pressure yesterday amid public outcry over a photo showing drowned three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, whose limp body had washed up on a Turkish beach.
The Prime Minister said yesterday he was “deeply moved” by the picture, adding that the UK will “fulfill our moral responsibilities” in accepting asylum-seekers.
Insisting that he “cares” about the migrants, Cameron said: “We are taking thousands of Syrian refugees, and we will continue to do that.”
Cameron has faced sharp criticism from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP leadership, as well as members of his own party, for not acting sooner on the issue.
Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman pushed Cameron to increase the refugee quota, writing: “I strongly support the government’s continued aid for the refugee camps in the region and agree with you that we need much tougher action against people trafficking, but it is clear now that we also have a moral duty to act to take in more of these people.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson made a similar appeal, saying: “If people are really in need and are scared for their lives, we must receive them.”