Parliament has been back less than a week, but my summer of visiting local businesses, holding surgeries and hosting a constituency tour in a vintage Volkswagen campervan feels a world away – the refugee crisis in Syria flipped almost overnight from a bid to make sure Britain’s borders were secure to a realisation that the world must mount a global response to a humanitarian crisis.
Many MPs report their inboxes being overwhelmed by in some cases thousands of emails asking the government to support tens of thousands of refugees; I have had fewer than a hundred such emails, and I believe that that reflects the acute pressure people see locally on public services, as a result of already high levels of immigration. But the emails I have had are overwhelmingly in favour of Britain, the fifth largest economy in the world, helping Syria to rebuild itself and to defeat ISIL, while also arguing that we should take a large number of refugees, in the right place and with the necessary resources.
An online poll I ran, however, attracted some 691 votes and struck a different tone: 32% said Britain should help Syria, against 68% against. The balance of comments on my Facebook page were somewhere between the emails and the poll.
The government’s decision is set to, in theory, allocate, some six refugees per constituency over the first year. Thankfully, even among sceptics, I have met nobody who argues that number, properly resourced, is beyond that with which Boston or Skegness can possibly cope.
Matt Warman is the Member of Parliament for Boston and Skegness.