Just how much has the UK done to help refugees? Public perception does not reflect reality

By Ben Turner
August 14 2020, 12.00

Just under half of the public think that the UK has done more than is fair to help refugees, despite the UK’s per capita contribution being among the lowest in Europe.

A YouGov poll shows that of the 3,163 adults asked, 46% believed the UK had done ‘more than its fair share’ compared to the rest of Europe in accommodating refugees from elsewhere in the world.

But when contrasted with data from across Europe, the UK’s per capita contribution was shown to rank it at 22 out of the 32 European countries where data was collected. 

Data taken from Eurostat shows that between the years 2010 and 2019 the UK took in just five refugees for every thousand inhabitants already in the country. 

Of the top five highest per capita contributors, by contrast, Sweden took in 50, Malta 38, Cyprus 33, and Greece and Luxembourg 30 each per 1000 inhabitants over the same time period. 

20% of respondents to the YouGov poll answered by suggesting that the UK had not done as much as its European neighbours, with 19% saying it had done just enough.

Germany took in 33% of the 7 million migrants granted asylum in Europe over the last decade, with France and Italy taking in 12% and 9% respectively. 

The UK took in 5% of this number. 

Another YouGov poll released on Tuesday also found roughly half of Britons (49%) said they have little (22%) to no sympathy (27%) for the migrants who have been crossing the channel from France to England.

The poll comes alongside a fresh pledge by Immigration Minister Chris Philp, who vowed to work with french authorities to create a comprehensive action plan.

Speaking in Paris on August 11, he said: “French authorities are doing a great deal of work, but the sheer numbers crossing the Channel are completely unacceptable.

“Unacceptable to the French government and unacceptable to the UK government.”

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