We Must Keep Nation Together Over Syria Crisis
Prime Minister David Cameron has given local MP Greg Mulholland an assurance that he will not allow the Syrian refugees crisis to be used to divide the nation.
Four million refugees have fled Syria as the conflict, which started in 2011, continues and shows no sign of abating. Over 300,000 people have already been killed in that time. Hundreds of thousands of people have travelled to Europe in recent months to seek refuge and to rebuild their lives.
Mulholland wrote to Leeds City Council last Thursday urging the council to look at what it could do to host refugees and to make any offer clear to ministers. The council has since confirmed it will indeed be supporting the resettlement of refugees and the Prime Minister has announced the UK will be accepting 20,000 refugees over the next five years- although from existing camps around Syria, not those who are already in Europe.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, Mulholland raised the story of Otley's Thomas Constable, who in the 1840s and 1850s rescued 500 people from the Irish famine and helped them resettle in Otley. He went on to ask the Prime Minister if he will ensure that the UK will play its part and deal with the crisis together, and not be divided by those seeking political gain.
"In the 1840s and 1850s, the Yorkshire solicitor Thomas Constable was estimated to have saved the lives of 500 refugees fleeing the appalling humanitarian disaster of An Gorta Mór. Now that the Prime Minister has properly recognised the present situation as a refugee crisis, will he give us an assurance that he and all his Ministers in the Government will give the necessary leadership to ensure that we keep the nation together in our actions to deal with it, and that they will not allow anyone to use it to divide us for political gain?"
Responding, Prime Minister David Cameron said:
"Yes, I can certainly give that assurance. The whole country will recognise, as should political leaders, that this is a good approach that we can all work with."
Commenting afterwards, Mulholland said:
"It is important to remember that over 300,000 people have already been killed. The refugees are people who just want to be able to live and raise their families- that's all. They have been forced to flee their homes and it is only right the UK does its part to help them rebuild their lives.
"People in Leeds and around the country are ready to show our compassion, just as Yorkshire solicitor Thomas Constable did in the 1840s and 1850s for refugees fleeing the Irish famine. What none of us need is people seeking political gain from the plight of the refugees coming to the UK, and I welcome the Prime Minister giving an assurance that he will show the leadership that we need at this time."
We Must Keep Nation Together Over Syria Crisis, 9th September 2015, 15:32 PM