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Conflicting Reaction in British Press to Parliamentary Debate on Bermuda Conference

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The British press today split sharply in its reaction to the debate in Commons on the recommendations of the Bermuda conference on refugees, with several papers severely critical of the government while others scored those who have questioned the government’s sincerity in its treatment of the refugee problem.

The London News-Chronicle states that “one cannot escape the conclusion that the government has neither the imagination nor the will to get to grips with the problem. We believe it could, if it cared, do more. If not, what a hollow farce, what a pitiful exhibition of political cynicism was the solemn declaration subscribed to by the House five months ago.” (The United Nations proclamation condemning Nazi atrocities against Jews in occupied territories.)

The Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, writes that “the enthusiasts who protest that machinery could be devised to deliver the enslaved millions cannot explain how these miracles should be performed.” It charges that such people “are doing a grave disservice to the victims and to the Allied cause,” adding that “the assertion that the problem could be solved immediately if England and America were in earnest is cruel propaganda, which deludes the suffering, as well as their friends, and defames the British and American people.” It concludes that “where action was possible, it has been taken and so it will be in the future.”

The Manchester Guardian, a long-time opponent of the government’s refugee policy, declares that “while Hitler scours Europe for foreign labor, we set up barbed wire to keep it out.” The Guardian ridicules the argument that some of the refugees may be “dangerous,” pointing out that this argument has long been used to keep “the most pitiful refugees” out of Palestine, to where, it says, “29,000 refugees could be taken immediately without us bestirring ourselves to get them there.”

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