Brits less accepting of Syrian refugees in wake of Paris attacks

November 18, 2015, 9:46 AM GMT+0

The percentage of British people who say we should be accepting fewer or no Syrian refugees has increased by 22 points since September

At least one of the six men identified among the killers in the Paris terror attacks on Friday is believed to have been a Syrian who came to Europe through Greece posing as a refugee. French police found a Syrian passport in the name of Ahmad Almohammad near the body of a man who attacked the Stade de France, which had been used on 7 October to register as a refugee on the Greek island of Leros. A man carrying a Syrian passport with the same details, but a different photograph, has now been arrested in Serbia. It is unclear if the Syrian passport is the true identity of the dead bomber.

Eastern European nations have reacted to the news with renewed opposition to refugee quotas and even in the US lawmakers have moved to block US acceptance of Syrian refugees.

While the UN has criticised turning away refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks as not the “way to go”, new YouGov research for The Times reveals a sharp decrease in the willingness of the British public to accept refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.

In September, as the European refugee crisis reached its peak and David Cameron gave in to pressure to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed into Britain, British people tended to oppose any increase in numbers. 51% said there should be no increase, dividing between keeping the numbers at recent levels (24%), decreasing the number (13%) or admitting none at all (14%). Over a third (36%) thought higher numbers of refugees should be permitted entry.

Now, however, even the group who say Britain should accept no Syrian refugees whatsoever (24%) outnumber those who want an increase in asylum acceptances (20%). Overall fully 73% now say there should be no increase in Syrian refugee numbers.


After reportedly backing down from a second vote on air strikes over concerns he did not have enough support from Labour to pass the motion, David Cameron told the Commons yesterday the Paris attacks had strengthened the case for bombing Syria, suggesting there could be a fresh vote.

There is little change from our last poll on RAF air strikes against ISIS in Syria (a 58% majority still approve but this is down slightly from net +40 on 30 September to +36 in November), and a very slight increase in approval for British and American ground troops re-entering Iraq (+1 to +6) and being sent to Syria (+1 to +5).

Jeremy Corbyn warned that military action should have the support of the international community and have its legality approved by the UN. His rating as Labour leader, after he told the BBC he was "not happy" with police having a shoot to kill policy in the event of a terrorist attack and had warned UK air strikes in Syria could make the situation there "far worse", is down 2 points to -22 since 27 October.

PA image

See the full poll results

Explore more data & articles