Britain’s refusal of calls to take part in a European-wide "burden-sharing" scheme
11th May 2011: Nick Clegg has supported a resolve by the home secretary, Theresa May, not to open Britain’s borders to migrants escaping the disorder in Libya and North Africa.
Instead the Liberal Democrat leader said Italy should be tendered realistic aid in helping those refugees and migrants who manage to complete the dangerous journey from Libya across the Mediterranean.
On Thursday May is expected to authenticate Britain’s refusal of calls to take part in a European-wide "burden-sharing" scheme when she meets EU interior ministers in Brussels to discuss the north African situation.
The Guardian had disclosed earlier this week that European military units infact failed to rescue 61 migrants who died after their boat ran into trouble en route to the Italian island of Lampedusa in late March.
Clegg informed a 60th anniversary celebration of the work of the Refugee Council in London that no one was going to accept the view of people dying at sea.
But he did not want Britain to take part in any problem division scheme, describing it as a some sort of adaptation of pass the parcel.
Clegg asserted that they wanted to make certain that every effort was made to make the conflict come to an end. He added obviously working with the Italians to provide practical support to those who have fled to their towns and cities was another way.
Clegg paid tribute to the 1951 UN convention on refugees, said it had saved millions of lives and added that the measure of any civilised society was how it treated the unspoken.
He said more than 3,000 of the world’s most susceptible immigrants had been settled in Britain under the UK gateway protection programme since its beginning in 2002.
Quoting personal example Clegg said he knew from the personal experience of his own family the openness at the heart of this nation.
Elaborating, he said his Dutch mother spent part of her childhood in a captive of war camp in Indonesia. His father’s mother escaped the Russian Revolution and made her way across Europe. Neither had to seek refuge here – they were luckier than that, nor both ended up marrying British husbands. But they nonetheless made their homes and built their lives in a welcoming Britain.