Britons tend to support resettlement of those fleeing Afghanistan

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
August 19, 2021, 9:48 AM UTC

Nearly half think it is the UK’s moral duty to take in refugees

The government has launched plans for a bespoke resettlement scheme for up to 20,000 Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban.

New YouGov polling carried out for The Times finds that around half of Britons (52%) say they would support a resettlement scheme for Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban. Approaching three in ten (29%) would be opposed, and 20% are unsure.

Support for a resettlement scheme is highest among Labour voters (69%) and those who voted to remain in the EU (70%). Conservative voters are split over the plan, with 45% in favour and 40% opposed. Leave voters, on the other hand, tend to be opposed, by 44% to 37%.

Details of the plan are still being hammered out by government officials. If successful the scheme could see up to 5,000 people resettled in the UK per year for four years, with priority for women, children, and religious minorities.

Britons would broadly support this many refugees coming to the UK from Afghanistan. Some 28% of people who back the resettlement plan say they think the UK should take “a few tens of thousands” of refugees. Another 26% think we should accept “a few thousand”. One in eight (13%) of those in favour say “hundreds of thousands” should be rehomed in the UK.

Conservatives supportive of the resettlement plan most commonly think we should accept “a few thousand” refugees (36%), with 26% in favour of taking in a few “tens of thousands”. One in ten Conservatives (10%) think we should accept only a “few hundred”.

Labour voters are more divided: 22% think a few thousand should be taken in on the scheme, 28% think a few “tens of thousands” should be resettled here, and 21% think it should be in the hundreds of thousands.

Does the UK have a moral duty to assist in the crisis?

Welsh MP Stephen Kinnock has said that the UK has a “moral duty” to offer asylum to those fleeing the Taliban, given some of those who are now fleeing the country will have worked for the western allies in Afghanistan.

Britons broadly agree, with 48% of people saying that the UK has a moral obligation to offer asylum to Afghan refugees. A third (36%) say the UK does not.

Two thirds of both Labour and Remain voters (67%) say the UK has a moral duty to take in those escaping the Taliban. Conservatives and Leave voters take the opposite view: by 52% to 37% and 54% to 33% respectively, these groups do not feel any national duty to take in Afghan refugees.

See full results here