Newspaper article International New York Times

The E.U., Britain and Refugees

Newspaper article International New York Times

The E.U., Britain and Refugees

Article excerpt

As migrants press for sanctuary in the European Union, Britons may pull further away and vote to leave the bloc in a referendum to be held by 2017.

The Atlantic Ocean pounds a shingled beach below massive cliffs that resemble some great fortress. But even here, in this remote cranny of Cornwall in southwest England, intimations of a distant tumult pry their way through the ramparts.

"We CAN make a difference," proclaims a flier in the window of the Cabin Cafe, promoting a cake sale in the village hall to gather cash, along with bluejeans, shoes, tents, socks, belts, sleeping bags, woolly hats, pots and pans and other items to ease the plight of Syrian refugees.

In fact, the refugees will most likely make a much bigger difference on a wider stage, sharpening an issue that has been brewing for months: As migrants press for sanctuary in the European Union, will the images of their often chaotic arrival persuade Britons to pull further away, even voting to leave the bloc in a referendum to be held no later than 2017?

It is a question that has arisen from Britain's handling of the crisis, during which Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to participate in a European Union plan to distribute refugees, particularly those from Syria, by quota.

Instead he has offered sanctuary for a total of 20,000 refugees over five years, drawn from camps among Syria's neighbors -- far fewer than the numbers that Germany, in particular, seems prepared to absorb.

The calculation is apparently that resentment of unwanted immigrants has reached such toxic levels in this country that it has come to represent the greatest of political risks. But as the cake sale seemed to show, there is what The Financial Times called "a compassionate and humane streak in the British people that ought not to be underestimated."

"It was fantastic," said Janey Comber, the organizer of the sale on Sept. 19, cataloging donations of 650 pounds, around $1,000, and enough jeans, sweaters, tents and backpacks to fill a van, now destined for migrants gathered at Calais, just across the English Channel, and living in a ramshackle settlement known as the Jungle. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.