Tim Farron announces plan to take 50,000 Syrian refugees

Since his election as leader in 2015, Tim Farron has been one of the strongest voices arguing that we should offer sanctuary to those fleeing  the appalling, brutal war in Syria. He has made several visits to places like Calais and Lesvos to talk to refugees.

On his agenda  today is a visit to a refugee charity in Gloucestershire where he will announce an ambitious manifesto commitment for refugees.

The manifesto sets out a plan to take 50,000 refugees over five years from Syria in the next parliament, as well as reopening the Dubs programme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children stranded in Europe, and working with international partners to create safe and legal routes.

Under Theresa May, the Conservatives have u-turned on two previous pledges, one to take more refugees from Syria and another to help abandoned child refugees.

Tim will say:

This is about the sort of country we are. The Britain I love is an open, tolerant, united country with a generous spirit and compassion for those in need. I love my country – and I hate it when my government makes me feel ashamed.

Faced with suffering and trauma on a scale not seen since the Second World War, Theresa May has wilfully chosen to tear up her promises to help some of the most vulnerable children and people in the world.

In the last two years I have visited refugees in Calais, Lesbos and Macedonia. I’ve looked these refugees in the eye and seen their suffering.  By committing to taking 10,000 Syrian refugees a year and reopening Dubs we can do our part to ease that suffering.

And that’s why I’m proud that I lead a party that welcomes refugees and accepts its responsibilities. It’s the decent thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s the patriotic thing to do.

And the party have produced an accompanying video to illustrate the point:

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  • Sue Sutherland 11th May '17 - 10:34am

    This is very welcome. I’m glad the party is sticking to its principles and humanity.

  • I know, but it could be a vote-losing pledge, given the current atmosphere in the country.

  • Bernard Aris 11th May '17 - 10:43am

    Brilliant speech and brilliant Video.

    That is the way we Social Liberals do these things.

    D66 in The Netherlands has been insisting (since the 2015-’16 migrants wave rolled over our borders) that in the local reception/provisional settlement camps, volunteers (and if possible professionals) start lessons in Dutch from day one after someoene has come in and has been registered.
    Although English is a very international language, I think the LibDems should insist on English lessons from day one; in the practice of the first classroom you can evaluate hou well any given pupil already speaks English.

    And lessons in groups give children some normality back, and a place to say, express what is on their mind…

  • Good for the Lib Dems. Meanwhile Labour produce a manifesto which will destroy the economy with its communist attempts to renationalise Royal Mail, its xenophobic opposition to foreign ownership of rail franchises, attempts to weaken the flexible Labour market and its immoral capitulation to Brexit.

    We cannot do deals with these hard left anti globalisation nationalists!

  • The UK has always been a beacon of hope for those who are forced – through war, prejudice or hardship – to flee their homelands. And this nation has benefitted greatly from the hard work and cultural diversity that it has gained. I welcome a commitment of this kind but can you point us to the details on how it will be paid for and where the people will be placed?

    Given that Mr Farron has already conceded that there will be a Tory landslide we should be clear about the logistics of this programme otherwise it will be portrayed as an exercise in futile virtue signalling.

  • Richard Underhill 11th May '17 - 11:20am

    Bernard Aris 11th May ’17 – 10:43am Before the 2015 general election a retiring MP visited groups who told him that it is in their interest to learn to speak English.
    There were some comments within the party about Welsh.
    Obviously we cannot compel Convention refugees to learn English as a condition of entry before they become recognised refugees. If people have fled a war, as in Syria, and arrived in a neighbouring country, such as Jordan, their asylum claim may be processed by UNHCR, and, if, granted should lead to recognition as Convention refugees by any country which will accept them.
    In English law the Adan judgement requires a well founded fear of persecution as an individual for a grant of asylum or an allowed appeal.
    Immigration and asylum are UK issues. They are not devolved to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The ambitions of the Scottish First Minister and her predecessor for powers over immigration need to be seen as part of the SNP aspiration for full independence, which was defeated in a referendum in 2014 and is otherwise absurd.

  • @ stimpson “Communist attempts to renationalise Royal Mail”. Come off it. Presumably you think Rowland Hill back in the 1830’s was a communist, as were the many Liberal Democrats who opposed Cable’s privatisation back in the Coalition ?

    And presumably it’s OK for a German/French/Dutch nationalised organisations to run our railways and export the profits but not for the profits to be retained in this country to re-invest in modernising the system ?

    @ ‘nvelope3003. What’s the point of electing a Lib Dem MP if, as you seem to wish, they capitulate to UKIP values……

  • John Chandler 11th May '17 - 12:12pm

    While I’m in favour of this, I think it’s going to be a considerable vote-killer for us in terms of the general electorate. NHS, housing, education, and Brexit appear to be getting us positive interest… but we’ve potentially messed that up as people are now saying “but this will negatively affect the NHS, housing, and education”.

    Maybe I missed the plan on how this is going to be funded and implemented? How do you sell it to a public that has been indoctrinated to see immigrants and refugees as a negative drain on society?

  • David Evershed 11th May '17 - 12:40pm

    If it is a point of principle how is a limit of 50,000 justified?

    How many are we turning away and how moral is it to do so?

  • Opposition to foreign states running our railways is motivated by racism.

  • nvelope2003 I’m afraid on the immigration issue you appear to be paying lip service to Liberal values but suggesting we should hide them and be ashamed of them…..
    in effect to deceive the electorate to get more Lib Dem MP’s. That’s an odd sort of morality..

    Your second suggestion that I hate foreign business is completely absurd. A British public sector railway would invest the profits in services in this country. The East Coast main line certainly did that during the period it was in the public sector and it was the most successful and profitable railway in Britain during that period.

  • The East Coast Main Line was “profitable” – a vague notion given the way the railway is structured – because it’s the East Coast Main Line! Not because of its ownership.

  • nvelope2003 11th May '17 - 1:10pm

    David Raw: Sadly all my posts have been removed but why do you think there will be any profits from a nationalised rail service when BR failed to achieve this ?

  • Richard Underhill 11th May '17 - 1:14pm

    This issue came up on the Daily Politics. The history of dispersal of people accepted is not primarily about money, it is about the availability of housing. In the past areas which have been affected by depopulation have had space, not always of high quality. These have included Merseyside and Glasgow. They do not include Northern Ireland which has a large stock of good quality housing. At one stage a former RAF base near Cambridge was used.

  • Ultimately British Rail was a joke, dangerous and overstaffed. The modern privatised rolling stock such as the Cross Country voyagers are better than anything BR ever gave us, especially the appalling trains on the East Coast Mainline. Equally it has been proved safer for trains to run driver only without conductors and for stations to be destaffed.

    Corbynism would see Aslef and RMT militants endangering lives by reverting to conductors on trains and diplomatic issues by stopping foreign ownership.

    It is an appalling policy which will hand vast power to the very people who should have zero say on how the railway is run – front line rail staff who are not qualified to have any opinions on safety or legal liability.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th May '17 - 2:18pm

    Tim’s motive is excellent, the articulation fine, the detail too much the timing wrong.

    We must and shall be open to a sense of greater responsibility and humanity on the taking in of refugees , is enough of a commitment, without arbitrary numbers or figures.

    We keep rather than gain the votes of those we already have and perhaps lose those of people worried .

    I do not want the votes of prejudiced or xenophobic people.

    I want the votes of realistic and pragmatic people.

    Cologne has now been seen as a turning point in the difference between mass migration and organised humanitarianism.

    The solution is international co operation. Not unilateral decisions only.

  • Loving Stimpsons comments… 😀

  • Richard Rolls 11th May '17 - 6:07pm

    Yet another misguided policy from bleeding heart Liberals. Where are you going to put these people? What are the costs? Why just Syrians? Surely there’s loads of Somalians you’d like to bring over?

  • I admire the stance but this will be a vote looser. We can’t afford that right now.

  • Phil Beesley 11th May '17 - 7:02pm

    Christian: “I admire the stance but this will be a vote loser.”

    It is not a stance. When Tim Farron asks for 50,000 Syrian refugees to make home in Britain, I presume that it might happen. Could happen.

    Start at the beginning as a liberal internationalist, then ask how the UK can accept 50,000 Syrian refugees. We can find homes for them.

    We can do this because we will.

  • Richard Underhill 11th May '17 - 7:30pm

    David Evershed 11th May ’17 – 12:40pm The 1951 Convention does not contain mathematical limits. They are unnecessary because most of the countries in the world have signed the convention, which spreads the load of receiving refugees. Ending the war in Syria is desirable. Ask the UNHCR whether the refugees want to return home. The answer is always YES. A grant of asylum is usually for 4 years leave to enter or remain, although there was a period some years ago when the grant was for indefinite leave to remain. This was because of staff shortages and not because of the circumstances of the applicants. The staff shortages were caused by the Labour government’s promise to adhere to the spending plans of their Tory predecessors.

  • Labour want to re-nationalise the railways, we want to let in 50,000 refugees. One may just save their party from total disaster, the other is pompous virtue signalling. Guess which one will have the biggest effect on the British voters.

  • David Evershed 12th May '17 - 1:35am

    Richard Underhill

    If our policy is a point of principle issue, why are we limiting it to Syria?

  • I don’t know, but many European countries all have their railway state-owned, and they work fine. The main problem is how the state-owned company is run. In Germany, the management devolved to regional authorities. I advocate nationalization of energy and railway, with a condition that they are not directly run by Whitehall. The fact that state-owned foreign energy and railway firms charge UK taxpayers at high prices to subsidize their own systems is totally unacceptable, that money should be invested back in the UK. I oppose foreign ownership in strategic industries, like most governments in this world except for the Whitehall.

  • suzanne Fletcher 12th May '17 - 10:02am

    I am glad that Tim has launched this policy on behalf of the party. It has actually been our policy on the Syrian Refugees under the VPRS scheme for some time, http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/05/Creating-Safe-Routes-for-Refugees-Policy-motion-agreed-at-Conference-Sept-2015.pdf since 2015. The respected and international organisation UNHCR, looking at it from an international perspective, has recently called for the UK to take 10,000 a year.
    As to where will they live ? A lot of private landlords are offering properties as are a number of social landlords who are having difficulty in letting 3 and larger bed houses because of the bedroom tax.
    As to costs. the full costings will be in the manifesto when launched, but remember if we are looking purely at financial costs and not the humanitarian aspects, it isn’t all about how much they will cost us, it is about longer term benefits to our economy. So many of those coming here are hard working, and have skills we need. Germany knew what it was doing in welcoming refugees. Sweden has found that in schools where there are a number of the Syrian Refugee children standards have gone up as the children are keen to learn, quickly picking up the language, and industrious. Long term our country will more than reap the benefits, just as we do today from immigration in the past.

  • David Raw: You have not answered my question. As regards refugees it is all a matter of timing. You have unrealistic notions of what the public want. We need to get some MPs and virtue signalling is not likely to achieve that aim. It is sad but we have to accept the world as it is and not how we would like it to be.

    As regards railways about 6% of travel is by rail, most of it in the London area, about 2% outside. Since privatisation this has increased dramatically.There are a number of parcel carriers in the private sector. Why does the state need to own one ? Few people post private letters now. Rowland Hill did not have email, iphones and the internet.

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th May '17 - 10:46am

    I applaud Tim Farron.

    If a leader cannot demonstrate a strong set of underpinning principles that we either agree with or reject, they cannot be trusted. Tim Farron s showing true leadership.

    It is a pity that some are concerned that it will lose votes. This demonstrates a lack of faith in the British people, something Liberal Democrats claim is central to the party’s philosophy.

  • I’m sorry your posts were removed because as a long standing Liberal I happen to believe in free speech. I had the same treatment when I gave (the accurate) figures on the NHS in Scotland which someone decided were inconvenient.

    What you describe as unrealistic is an opinion – your opinion. We disagree, as we do on the railways and the postal service. – and in my opinion – you’re wrong. End of.

  • @ envelop 2003 My post above was a response. Sorry it was not flagged as such.

  • End of what ??
    The Liberal Democrats ?

  • Or the end of free speech ?

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th May '17 - 3:05pm

    @ David Evershed,
    How moral is it to reason that, because we are unable to offer safety for every Syrian refugee, we should not offer safety to 50,000?

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