Yesterday in the Commons the Prime Minister reported back on the recent EU summit. It was dominated by debate over how the EU should respond to the pressures on its borders from economic migrants and refugees. Apparently there were heated arguments between member states who are members of the Schengen common frontiers about how they should police their external border, how they should allow or help people to move within the common border area, and how realistic it is to take the large numbers now seeking to enter the EU.
Mr Cameron was able to report that there was no criticism of the UK for taking a different view of how to handle this problem than that taken by the Schengen countries. The UK was praised for doing more to help migrants and refugees in camps in the Middle East, where the UK’s food and other aid programmes have helped to provide some support for people away from their homes and to spare them the dangerous and expensive journey to the EU. By staying out of Schengen, and by providing a different analysis and policy prescription than the others the UK has been able to help more and avoid some of the obvious dangers of the common policy.
The UK policy has not encouraged more people to risk death or harm by undertaking perilous journeys to the EU, and has done positive things to help those who have had to flee their own homes in war torn parts of the Middle East. The UK also understands that the true answer to the current crisis lies in helping resolve the conflicts and economic disasters which force people to leave their homelands.
I supported the Prime Minister’s stance on Syrian refugees against Labour, Liberal democrats, the SNP and the bishops who want the UK to take refugees and migrants who have made the journey to the EU, acting as a further magnet to others to do so. I also pointed out that the UK has been able to have a different policy on this, and to stay outside the Euro because of past actions over EU integration. It for me underlines the need to gain our freedom to pursue the policies we think best in other areas the EU does currently control.