One of the worst things about our membership of the European Union is the way in which the very fact is changing our national character. A decade of uncontrolled mass migration has, far from the what ideologues of multiculturalism claimed, made us a less, not more tolerant society. It has cut ties of trust between neighbours and diminished social cohesion. It has made us, in our homes, streets, towns and cities less open, less willing to take people’s word. By being beholden to the bureaucrats of Brussels and their fellow travellers in the legacy parties of Britain we are in danger of losing something invaluable, our generosity of spirit, our charity.

There are many strands to the thick rope of our natonal character. One of which is that, when there is real suffering elsewhere, we do what we can to alleviate it. This proud tradition includes but is not restricted to providing a home for the French Huguenots, the Ugandan Asians, the kinder transport – where we provided homes for Jewish children fleeing the horrors of Nazi Europe in the ’30s. We gave a home to Garibaldi, to Bolivar, to all manner of men and women who, more often than not innocent of offence, were in fear of their lives at home.

Yesterday, Nigel Farage called for a continuation of that tradition when he suggested that as a country we should do something to provide safety to some Syrians now threatened with real suffering and in some cases execution.

A few months ago, UKIP took the lead in stopping this country risking the lives of British servicemen and women by opposing military intervention in Syria. I am certain that our staunch opposition to War at that time stiffened the resolve of many on the Government benches during the vote. Since then we again took the lead in calling for a more than token support for refugees in countries nearby such as Jordan and Turkey. In the time that has passed since then, it has become increasingly apparent that the war in Syria continues to take an appalling toll on its citizens, particularly the Christian minority.

These people, who have lived in the Levant for millennia and whose residence predates the coming of Islam by hundreds of years, are now under greater threat than they have been since the fag end of the Crusades. Their homes are ransacked, schools and businesses destroyed and their churches defiled and burnt.

As Farage has said today,

“Christians are being increasingly persecuted across the Middle East and Syria as extreme Islamist elements seek to purge the region of Christianity.

“Britain must take its global responsibility seriously. It would seem that EU membership has skewed our sense of compassion that has long been a hallmark of British values. This government is about to let in thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians whilst we turn our back on people who in decades past we would have helped.

“If we do not help these people then who will? We must as a nation help Christians who are fleeing Syria to escape death and torture by allowing some to come to the UK.”

When we in UKIP reject the dirty bath water of state-sanctioned, uncontrolled mass immigration, we must always remember to save the baby of common human decency and our tradition of giving refuge to the truly needful.

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