Britain must take its quota of refugees, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron tells activists

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, arrives for his speech the main hall at the Liberal Dem

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, arrives for his speech the main hall at the Liberal Democrats annual conference, Bournemouth. Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Britain must take its quota of refugees from Europe, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said has he hit out at David Cameron's 'pitiful and embarrassing' response to the crisis.

Tim Farron said local authorities must be given the financial support to resettle those fleeing war and repression as he backed Britain opting in to a European Union plan.

He was given a standing ovation by members of his party as he put the refugee crisis at the centre of his conference speech.

European Union interior ministers have approved a controversial plan to relocate 120,000 migrants across the continent over the next two years.

It will see migrants moved from Italy, Greece and Hungary to other EU countries.

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But Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary voted against accepting mandatory quotas. Britain is not taking part in the scheme.

Mr Farron, who travelled to Calais shortly after becoming leader of the party, accused the Government of simply sticking to a 'media management mode'.

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He said the Government policy would not directly help hundreds of thousands of refugees currently on the move across Europe, calling for an international solution to the crisis.

He said proper financial support needed to be given to local authorities to prevent communities being set against each other, but sources would not put a figure on the numbers that Britain might take.

He also used the chance of a high profile conference speech to maintain that his party should return to government in 2020 and should be 'serious about power'.

The Lib Dems were left with just eight MPs in the wake of five years in coalition with the Conservatives.

He also criticised the Government for 'dismantling' support for the green industries, saying; 'When Al Gore, John Gummer and the boss of the CBI all warn you you're doing the wrong thing – which is what happened yesterday – that chance are, you're on the wrong track.'

Supermarkets were criticised for the 'exploitation of dairy farmers', which has left many being paid less for their milk than it costs to produce.

Former leader Nick Clegg said the speech had 'left everybody buzzing'.

'It was such a powerful speech, it was a fantastic battle-cry and if anyone had any doubt that the Liberal Democrats were in fighting form under Tim's leadership those doubts would have been dispelled by one of the most passionate speeches I've seen in a very long time.'

Chair of Labour's Refugee Taskforce, Yvette Cooper MP said the British government needed to show some leadership on this issue.

She said Britain should end its refusal to take refugees already in Europe.

'Until EU governments agree real action, hundreds of thousands of people remain in limbo across Europe - including thousands of unaccompanied children. 'They are at the mercy of evil gangs of traffickers who exploit their vulnerability to force them into prostitution and other criminal activity.'

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