Yvette Cooper: Britain should take more than 4,000 refugees a year


Britain should take in more refugees than the 4,000 a year proposed by David Cameron and accept people already in Europe, Yvette Cooper has said. 

The Labour leadership candidate and shadow home secretary said the Prime Minister's promise to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees by May 2020 drawn from camps around the war-torn country paled in comparison to historic British efforts.

Ms Cooper said the Government should speak to councils, charities and faith groups to assess how much help they are offering and then support them to deliver it, setting a target for how many people to take in one year.

If the country can and needs to take more refugees after that time then that should be assessed on an annual basis, she said.

Ms Cooper also demanded action to help those already in Europe, including from other conflict-ridden countries such as Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia and Libya.

She suggested the Government could fund the UNHCR to do asylum assessments in under-pressure European border countries like Greece and to offer to resettle to Britain some of those who qualify for refugee status.

Opening an emergency debate on the refugee crisis, Ms Cooper said: "The Prime Minister said yesterday that he would help up to 20,000 refugees over the five-year parliament.

"But the crisis is now and helping 4,000 refugees this year isn't enough.

"Four thousand compared to the 24,000 in France, hundreds of thousands in Germany, 4,000 compared to our population of 60 million, 4,000 compared to the 10,000 we helped in just nine months under the Kindertransport, 4,000 compared to the 19,000 Vietnamese boat people who fled to Britain from the Vietcong and 4,000 compared to the 24,000 Kosovans that came to Britain in the late 90s.

"We can do more than this."