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Cameron tells MPs there’s respect for Britain’s position on refugees

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron has said he wants to ensure 1,000 Syrian refugees arrive in the UK before Christmas.

He also told MPs there was a “lot of respect” for Britain’s position not to take migrants arriving in Europe.

The prime minister, who made a Commons statement yesterday following a European Council meeting in Brussels, said this included praise from the EU commissioner on refugees.

He added that the 84 Church of England bishops who have asked him to accept at least 50,000 Syrian refugees are “wrong”, and highlighted Britain’s aid spending.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted Britain’s negotiating position on EU reform could be strengthened if it accepted more refugees.

And SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson again called for Britain to take in more of those who are already in Europe.

The Moray MP also criticised the lack of clarity over Mr Cameron’s renegotiation efforts.

Last week, Mr Cameron pledged to “quicken the pace” of talks. He also revealed he would set out his EU demands within weeks.

Earlier, during defence questions, Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara asked defence secretary Michael Fallon whether the coalition strikes in Syria had improved the stability in the region and brought peace closer.

The Tory frontbencher told the SNP defence spokesman it had reduced the ability of so-called Islamic State (IS) – or Isil as it is also known – to operate.

He added: “Bearing in mind that 30 of our holidaymakers, including four Scots, were slaughtered on a beach in an Isil attack in Tunisia, it would not be right for the task of defeating Isil in Syria in order to keep our streets safe to be left to French, Australian and American aircraft.”

Mr O’Hara then suggested the UK use its influence at the UN to “pursue peace through diplomacy rather than gearing up for airstrikes”.

But Mr Fallon replied: “Isil has been butchering our own civilians, killing people of other faiths and throwing gay people off buildings.

“With respect, I have to say to that I find the idea that it would suddenly cave in to diplomacy in the form of UN resolution a little naive.

“Isil has to be defeated in Iraq and in Syria, and the coalition would welcome the precision capability that our Tornado aircraft could bring in Syria, as they have done in Iraq.”

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