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Campaigners vow to fight for refugees’ rights

May faces wave of protests after ‘chilling’ speech

by Peter Lazenby and Luke James 

in Manchester

PRO-REFUGEE campaigners staged a lively demonstration at the Tory Conference in Manchester last night telling Home Secretary Theresa May: “Refugees Welcome Here!”

Stand Up To Racism organised the event to highlight the “abdication of responsibility by the Conservative government regarding refugees.”

The anti-racist group’s organiser Sabby Dhalu condemned the government’s “inhumane and inadequate” response to the global refugee crisis.

She said: “There has been a public outcry about the drowning of refugees which needs an effective response. 

“Their proposal to take in 20,000 refugees over four years pales into insignificance given Austria took that amount in one day.”

The demonstration came hours after Ms May launched a “crackdown” on refugees. She said asylum-seekers could be booted out of Britain if the government deems that their home country is safe.

“If there is a clear improvement in the conditions of their own country, we will review their need for protection,” she said. 

And in a bid to deter Syrian refugees in Europe from coming to Britain, Ms May said refugees who have travelled through safe countries will be offered only “the minimum stay of protection.” 

She claimed the policy is “humane for those who need our help, tough on those who abuse it.”

Her tough-talking speech was seen as a political pitch signalling her intention to replace David Cameron. But Britain’s Refugee Council described her speech as “chilling.”

Chief executive Maurice Wren said: “The Home Secretary’s clear intention to close Britain’s border to refugees fleeing for their lives is thoroughly chilling, as is her bitter attack on the fundamental principle enshrined in international law that people fleeing persecution should be able to claim asylum in Britain.

“The Home Secretary’s idea that the few refugees who reach Britain’s shores under their own steam are not in need of protection is fundamentally flawed.”

Even the Institute of Directors accused Ms May of “irresponsible rhetoric and pandering to anti-immigration sentiment.”

Labour shadow home secretary Andy Burnham criticised her “narrow-minded” speech for failing “to provide any real answers.”

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