LONDON (Reuters) - German leader Angela Merkel has encouraged refugees to attempt perilous journeys to Europe by saying her country would take more asylum-seekers, the leader of Britain’s anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) said on Friday.
Nigel Farage said he was horrified by photographs of a dead three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a beach in Turkey and warned there was a risk of more deaths after Germany’s move.
“The question we need to ask ourselves is: how do we prevent more appalling photographs like that?” he said. “How do we prevent things like the 71 people who were found dead in the back of that lorry in Austria the other day?”
The images of migrants trying to cram onto trains at a Budapest railway station this week, hoping to reach Germany, looked like the beginning of a “stampede,” he said.
“I genuinely think and believe that Chancellor Merkel, compounding the pull factors this week, is more likely to make us see more of those kind of photographs,” Farage said. “It is a very dangerous thing, I think, that she has done.”
Germany expects the number of asylum-seekers reaching the country to quadruple to 800,000 this year and it plans to take in Syrian refugees regardless of where they first enter the EU.
Farage favours Australia’s policy of processing applicants for asylum in third countries. He also cited the risk of Islamist fighters getting into Europe by posing as refugees.
“We can’t let compassion imperil our safety,” Farage said at the launch of UKIP’s campaigning ahead of Britain’s EU membership referendum, due before the end of 2017.
Opinion polls have shown more British people support remaining part of the 28-nation bloc than want to leave it.
But Farage said the ‘No’ campaign was only getting going now and he welcomed the expected victory of socialist lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership contest of the opposition Labour Party, which raised the prospect of more support from the left for Britain leaving the EU.
Corbyn has said he wants socialist reforms before pledging the party’s support for EU membership at the referendum.
“Under his leadership, which now looks all but certain, I am absolutely confident that there is going to be a proper debate about the European Union that goes on within the centre-left of British politics,” Farage said.
Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Stephen Addison