Refugee crisis: UK policy 'morally unacceptable', economists say

Senior economists want the UK to do more for Syrian refugees Credit: Reuters

The UK's response to the refugee crisis is "misguided" and "morally unacceptable", some of the world's most senior economists have told the prime minister.

In an open letter to David Cameron, more than 120 of the world's top economists called on the UK to take its "fair and proportionate share" of refugees.

They also called for better procedures across the EU or handling refugees.

Among the signatories were Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, a former foreign office minister and UN deputy secretary general, and Peter Sutherland, a former WTO director general, as well as a host of academics.They write:

Former minister Mark Malloch-Brown is among the signatories of the letter Credit: Reuters

Under the current policy, referred to by the economists, the UK has so far taken in about 1,000 Syrian refugees.

The economists note that in the past the UK has taken in "far higher numbers" of asylum seekers and that the contribution made to the country by many refugees has been substantial. They write:

The letter refers to thousands of Ugandan Asian refugees taken in by Britain in 1972 when they were expelled by then-president Idi Amin.

Despite anxiety at the influx of such a large number of refugees, many went on to make an "extraordinary contribution", the letter notes, something the prime minister has himself observed.

The open letter marks the first time such a large group of economists have criticised UK immigration policy.