Refugee stance 'could hit David Cameron's EU reform plans'

Questions over Britain's insistence that it is 'out of the club' in sharing the burden


Britain's refusal to take in more refugees could hurt David Cameron's plans to renegotiate the country's relationship with the European Union, a German spokesman for Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance has said.

Stephan Mayer said Britain's insistence that it is "out of the club" in sharing the burden of the thousands of refugees and migrants entering Europe could harm its relationship with Germany and the Prime Minister's ambitions to win back powers from Brussels.

Germany has said it expects to accept 800,000 asylum seekers this year whereas Britain received 25,771 asylum applications in the year ending June 2015, according to the Home Office.

Mr Mayer said Britain must help to ease the "huge humanitarian catastrophe" or Mr Cameron could lose support for his renegotiation plans.

The home affairs spokesman told the Times: "If the British Government is continuing to hold this position that Great Britain is out of the club in this big task in sharing the burden, certainly this could do some harm to the bilateral British-German relationship, and certainly also to David Cameron's ambitions to be successful in the renegotiation.

He added: "I have always had sympathy and understanding for the British role in the EU and the demands for renegotiation.

"But we are now in such a huge humanitarian catastrophe, I do not have any sympathy or understanding for one-country-orientated positions."

Mr Mayer spoke as Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper called for Britain to open its doors to more refugees from Syria, arguing it should be possible to take some 10,000 people seeking asylum.

'Immoral' and 'cowardly'

The shadow home secretary said the failure to offer sanctuary to people trying to escape the "new totalitarianism" of Islamic State was "immoral" and "cowardly", and urged the Government to exclude refugees from its target to reduce net migration below 100,000 a year.

She called on the Government to summon a national conference to determine how many places can be offered to refugees from Syria and the Mediterranean.

"If every city took 10 refugee families, if every London borough took 10 families, if every county council took 10 families, if Scotland, Wales and every English region played their part, then in a month we'd have nearly 10,000 more places for vulnerable refugees fleeing danger, seeking safety," Ms Cooper said.

Mr Cameron is set to face pressure to accept more refugees from whoever wins the Labour leadership as Ms Cooper's rivals backed her demand for action.

In a Channel 4 hustings, none would put a figure on how many refugees Britain should take but Jeremy Corbyn said it should be "a considerable number", while Liz Kendall said the country could welcome "thousands more"

Andy Burnham said the Government could win support for Britain's demands for reform to EU freedom of movement rules by showing leadership on the refugee issue.

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