Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has pledged to resettle 50,000 more Syrian refugees in the UK if the party wins the general election.
Farron urged Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to follow his example by pledging to allow those displaced in camps throughout the Middle East to come to the UK.
The Conservative government originally pledged to settle 20,000 refugees in 2015, then the following year promised to try to settle 3,000 unaccompanied children.
However, in February of this year the program closed and in reality just 350 children had been let in.
“Labour should match this [Liberal Democrat pledge], this is a challenge to other parties and particularly to the government,” the Lib Dem leader told the Guardian.
“I think we need a strong opposition and you only get that with a clear alternative – this is our clear alternative.”
He said his party was convinced that the potential cost of such a move – which it estimates at around £4.3 billion (about US$5.4 billion) – would be worth it.
“I don’t want us to be the kind of country who turns our back on those in desperate need. This is about Britain doing its fair share, it’s not about taking all of the burden.”
Farron also said he would look at schemes to bring more refugee children into the UK and restart the Dubs Amendment scheme – named after a Labour peer who arrived in the UK as a child refugee in World War II – halted by Prime Minister Theresa May.
May has taken the view that delivering aid to conflict zones is a better option than bringing people to the UK.
Farron said he had been inspired by meeting Syrians who were given sanctuary in Germany.
“I had met Syrian refugees in Cologne, welcomed into a civilized country which had the desire to do the right thing,” he said.
“They were setting up home, very quickly learning German, aeronautical engineers who will become loyal, tax-paying German citizens. As safe, sanitary and caring as a camp can be made to be, it’s still a flaming camp and it’s no way to raise your kids,” Farron said.