David Miliband: 'Refugees shouldn't just be seen as a burden'

4 September 2020, 14:51 | Updated: 4 September 2020, 16:07

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

"Refugees shouldn't just be seen as a burden" David Miliband has told LBC as he urges Brits to be more accepting of those coming to the UK.

Speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty David Miliband the President and Ceo of the International Rescue Committee made a point very few listeners thought they would be hearing on a Friday afternoon.

"The origin of fish and chips tell a very interesting story," he told Shelagh, telling the story of how the traditional British dish made its way to our shores thanks to refugees.

He said fried fish was originally introduced by Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Portugal and Spain in the 16th century. While the humble chip was first fried in France in the 17th century, and French Protestants, or Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution around the same time might have brought their taste for fried potato with them to the UK. 

He said the combination of fish and chips was the idea of another immigrant, Joseph Malin, who opened the nation’s first fish and chip shop in the East End of London in the 1860s. 

He urged listeners to remember that Britain's history is "bound up" with the rest of the world and not separate form it.

Mr Miliband said that "refugees shouldn't just be seen as a burden on a country that they arrive in."

He said that those who have "known the cost of war and persecution" go on to "value the freedom of the country that you arrive in and you want to contribute to it and become a patriotic citizen."

"Let's remember that refugees when well integrated can become great contributors to the country that they join."

Shelagh asked the charity leader what he would say to those who feel their local area has faced a decline due to immigration numbers and the social and political mismanagement of the process.

Mr Miliband said it was a "good point" adding that "immigration and the flow of refugees has to be effectively managed."

He said that should include fast processing of refugee claims.

On the subject of other countries, he said the UK is not alone and "other countries need to do the right thing."

He told LBC that by the UK leaving the EU "we lose the right to return people to other European countries if first of all they claimed asylum there."

Adding that when there is "no legal route to hope," then people will "turn to people smugglers".

To learn more about the IRC and to watch the video, visit www.rescue-uk.org/fish-and-chips

Watch the whole informed exchange in the video at the top of the page.