Abbott and Cameron : Clash on Syria

Photo of Diane AbbottDiane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

The British people are indeed, as the Prime Minister said, a generous people, and they will find his proposal for taking 4,000 Syrian refugees a year derisory, but above all, long after this refugee crisis is no longer on the front pages, there will be a need for a sustainable, Europe-wide strategy. It cannot be right for Greece and Italy to be left alone to deal with incoming migrants from across the Mediterranean. It cannot be right that we refuse to take our quota. Syrian refugees are not the only issue; migrants from the horn of Africa and north Africa are drowning in the Mediterranean every day. The Prime Minister needs to look to a more sustainable strategy that is more genuinely about working closely with our European neighbours, because hundreds of thousands of lives depend on it.

Photo of David CameronDavid Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I do not agree with the hon. Lady. I think 20,000 Syrian refugees is the right response for Britain. While I agree that we need a co-ordinated European response, I do not believe it should be Britain giving up our borders and joining the Schengen no-borders arrangement. That lies behind what the hon. Lady and others are suggesting—[Interruption.] If that is not the case, the Labour party needs to be clear about it. I think we can have a comprehensive approach that helps the Schengen countries with their external borders, but maintains our borders and recognises that we benefit from having them.

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