POLITICS
03/09/2015 10:55 BST | Updated 03/09/2015 14:59 BST

Refugee Crisis: Online Petition Reaches 100,000 Signatures Needed To Trigger Debate In Parliament

An online petition calling on the UK government to accept more refugees has topped the 100,000 signature threshold needed to force a debate in Parliament following a massive surge in support.

About 100 people a minute were signing up to the Government e-petition this morning, fuelled by the picture of a three-year-old boy washed up dead on a beach after attempting to escape Syrian.

UPDATE:

The shocking image was shared across social media yesterday and featured on the front page of most national newspapers this morning.

Signatories had reached 105,000 by 10.55am having only got to 16,000 before the picture emerged yesterday.

Meanwhile, acting Labour leader Harriet Harman is writing to David Cameron calling for an emergency COBRA meeting in Whitehall and a summit of EU leaders to deal with the crisis.

A Labour source said: “David Cameron must now stop dragging his feet. It is high time Britain starting living up to its international responsibilities and proud tradition of helping those who need it most.”

MPs from across the political divide have called for the Government to do more to offer refuge to those with genuine asylum claims, with Tory backbenchers including Johnny Mercer and David Burrowes heaping pressure on David Cameron.

Shadow Home Secretary and Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper yesterday called Britain's asylum policy "immoral" and said that if every town in the UK accepted just 10 families each, then the UK could offer nearly 10,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees a place to live in peace and safety.

She compared the idea to the 1930s programme which saw Britain take in 10,000 Jewish children fleeing the Nazis in the matter of months. Labour leadership rival Andy Burnham has called for a Commons debate too.

MPs who decide what is debated in the Commons are not obliged to grant a debate, but the groundswell of outrage would make it very difficult to deny.

The UK government has come under fire for not sharing the burden of refugees fleeing war zones and dictatorships compared to EU counterparts.

SIGN PETITION HERE

The petition, under the headline 'Accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK', reads: "There is a global refugee crisis.

"The UK is not offering proportional asylum in comparison with European counterparts. We can't allow refugees who have risked their lives to escape horrendous conflict and violence to be left living in dire, unsafe and inhumane conditions in Europe. We must help."

Critics have seized on a figure suggesting the UK has resettled just 216 Syrian refugees since the start of the crisis.

But that is under just one scheme, the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation programme, over ordinary asylum intake.

The Full Fact website says the UK has taken in about 5,000 Syrian refugees since 2011.