Asked for the government’s position on accepting Syrian refugees, the PMS said that the Home Secretary had set out the government’s position in the House yesterday. The government would continue to work on proposals and would set them out in time for tomorrow’s debate.
Asked whether this would be a unilateral decision or whether the UK would need to liaise with other states, the PMS reiterated the distinction that the PM made in PMQs last week between a quota system and an approach which looks at how we help the most vulnerable cases in refugee camps. As part of working up the detail of its proposals, the government will work closely with bodies such as the UNHCR.
Asked if the PM was unhappy with a UNHCR quota and if government wanted its own system, the PMS said that in a situation where there are 4.5 million refugees, 860,000 in Lebanon alone, it is very important that the primary way to help is in the region, and that is reflected by the aid given by the international community, of which Britain is the second largest bilateral donor, donating £600 million. The PMS also said that in keeping with Britain’s long tradition of helping the most vulnerable, the government was looking at how we do that in this instance.
Asked whether the PM had ruled out bringing down income tax below the 45p rate, the PMS said that the PM had answered on this point yesterday.