Refugees and Migrants (Search and Rescue Operation)
30 Oct 2014Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab):
Is the Minister aware that, for many British people, including those who share his concern about protecting our borders, the decision on search and rescue represents a new low? Of course the solution to those problems lies in north Africa, and of course there must be a regional solution, but consciously pursuing a policy that will allow people to drown should play no part in protecting Europe’s borders. Some of us are reminded of nothing more than the Exodus, the boat that, at the end of the second world war, tried to take Jewish refugees to Palestine and was turned away by the British Government on precisely the kind of realpolitik grounds the Minister has advanced this morning. Just as people look back in shame at what we did in relation to the Exodus and the fleeing Jewish refugees, we will look back in shame on the decision he is trying to defend today.
The Minister for Security and Immigration (James Brokenshire)
I respect the hon. Lady’s passion and that of other hon. Members, but the harsh reality is that more people are dying in the Mediterranean following the introduction of Mare Nostrum and the emergency measures. If we want solutions that save lives, we need to examine different options and alternatives. Not just the UK Government but 28 other EU member states have come to that same conclusion. The measure cannot therefore be characterised as a specific action of the UK Government. There has been an EU-wide recognition that things are simply not working and not saving lives.