* Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May stand firm rejecting Brussels proposed Quotas of taking migrants rescued from Mediterranean .
* Cameron : no this is not acceptable , we stick tour own immigration policy.
* Government ministers : EU Term ” refugees” is inaccurate and we will define t them according to 1951 UN treaties on refugees and asylum seekers .
* Bill Cash : if EU invoke legal obligations under EU treaties we then use Westminster for a parliament vote to revoke them .
Britain to reject the European Union imposed quotas of migrants rescued from sinking boats in the Mediterranean and to stick to immigration policy stated in the Conservative manifesto , with prime Minister adamant that Britain will stick to her own ” Immigration policy” and will stand firm in next week summit in Riga, the Latvian capital.
Asked Monday where we stand on Brussels’ quota of “refugees” Prime Minister David Cameron, who had just left jubilant meeting of the 1922 committee , told InsideUKPolitics The UK sticks to her own policy of taking refugees. The point was emphasised by former attorney general Dominic Grieve talking to BBC world at one, a view backed by senior cabinet ministers, saying the EU term “ refugees “ was inaccurate.
Of 16 cabinet ministers and senior Tory MPs only one MP said she was sympathetic to Brussels view and would remind The House of “ our humanitarian duty to give asylum to refugees fleeing prosecution” Asked about definition of ” refugees” and whether some people coming from Bangladesh, or Senegal where no danger to their lives exist,can be called ” refugees”, she said she didn’t know enough details but ” will study the situation when discussed on the floor of the House.”
As Brussels is likely to invoke treaties obliging Britain to accept allocated of claimed to be ” refugees” quota, a senior Foreign Office official and one minster said government lawyers would argue the accuracy of the term “ refugees” as it hardly relate to the vast majority of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Asylum seekers or refugees have to satisfy UK criteria in line with the UN 1951 treaty definition that they face danger to their life in countries they are fleeing. With the exception of countries like Syria, Libya or Somalia, most of the countries from which the migrants come won’t fit into this criteria.
Home Secretary Theresa May told various media in interviews that Britain was doing more than enough helping Syrians and the like ” we gave over £800 million to help refugees and took several thousands”. She said most of Syrian refugees fleeing the five years civil war there prefer to stay in the region with with plans to return to their homes. UK donations and contributions to agencies looking after Syrian refugees and host countries like Jordan and Lebanon is more than double all other 26 EU nations contribution put together.
The test of the government stand will come as early as next Friday when the Prime Minister attends the EU leaders conference hosted in Riga, the Capital of the EU presidency nation Latvia. Insiders see this as an early EU commission testing the resolve of the newly elected Tory government.
Bill Cash, Euro sceptic and Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee in the last parliament, went further saying if EU would use treaties to impose legally binding quotas then we use a vote in Westminster to revoke it.
However ministers shied away from directly endorsing a military action to destroy the smugglers boats, but support UK drafted resolution put before the UN Monday to take military action against smugglers and human traffickers. The Royal navy flagship HMS Bulwark and marine Sea-king helicopters are among different EU warships patrolling Mediterranean in rescue missions following the death of over 1800 of migrants in the past few weeks. Last weekend alone over 7000 migrants were rescued from sinking boats and mostly landed in Italian islands.
UN and EU refugee agencies say there are 100 times fold increase of people smuggled by traffickers from North Africa coast, mainly Libya where a civil war is ravaging following the fall of Colonel Gaddafi regime thanks to American backed Anglo-French military intervention. They estimated one and half million migrants of different nationality gathered on Libyan shores since the start of the year.
Arab and North African ministers don’t mince their words asking for a coordinated military action, preferably by NATO to target and sink all boats before smugglers use to pack migrants in most dangerous conditions and send them across the sea to Italy , Greece and Malta, all are members of The EU.
A north African minister pointed at an ITN interview last month with an Istanbul based Lebanese trafficker admitting that he charges each migrant up to $6000 (£3870) to reach Europe. Admitting that most come from countries at peace like Pakistan, Bangladesh and many African countries, they start voyage in small boat, stopping on the way at small fishing villages in Lebanon, Israel and Egypt, then gather in Libya to be transferred into overcrowded boats which won’t pass sailing safety tests and sail to Europe.
“When you listen to EU officials or refugee agencies or spokesmen they mislead media by carefully chosen words that doesn’t relate to reality,” said the Arab minister Monday citing a BBC radio four interview with an EU official on Monday “ he [EU Official] mentioned people fleeing climate change in sub-Saharan Africa and dictatorship in Eritrea, but they are lesser than three percent; meanwhile avoided mention of traffickers milking the hopes of the other 97 percent heading for Europe.”
Accepting migrants instead of sending them back with some aid to invest in their countries of origin, would encourage more to come, traffickers to make more money and more people die drowning, he said.
The North African minister view is shared by many southern Mediterranean and Arab officials. Their view is summarised as: $6000 a migrant pas smugglers can be invested in projects in his own country that make handsome income. If we take the vie that it is a debt he has to pay, then count the cost of the operation and how much it costs EU or Italian government looking after a rescued migrant? one North African official estimate at about euro 10,000 in the first month alone. He said a fund should be created and make sure migrants are treated and fed, then send them back to their countries of origin supervised by an organisation helping them to set up business with a 10,000 or 20,000 euros. it will give his family enough income and create employment. The official adds that publicising this policy would discourage traffickers and reduce their chances and in effect save lives in the long term.
He was joined by another official calling for a tough military action. They say NATO or joint naval force should patrol the waters along north Africa coast and intercept boats, arrest crews for trial under various maratime laws and destroy boats. They also suggest destroying all the boats that are not registered in open or covert operations in all Libyan ports.