Daily Express… BRITAIN will not open its borders to migrants fleeing the turmoil in North Africa, the Home Secretary has insisted.
Theresa May told her EU counterparts that the UK was not prepared to take on any “burden sharing”.
Ms May issued her warning at a meeting of Europe’s Home Affairs ministers in response to calls for help from Italy.
She did however offer “practical assistance” to Italy on its own shores.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We were quite robust in stating that we are not planning to open our borders to those coming to Europe from North Africa. We do not agree with ‘burden sharing’ which is what Italy wants.”
More than 25,000, mainly Tunisians, have arrived in Italy since the unrest there and thousands of Libyans, Egyptians and other Africans are expected to make the crossing as border controls in war-torn Libya fail.
The tiny Sicilian island of Lampedusa is swamped by thousands of migrants arriving by the boatload every day.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pleaded with EU colleagues to help ease the pressure on his country by accepting some of the new arrivals.
Tensions are also building between Italy and France after French border guards turned back Tunisian migrants who were trying to leave Italy. As well as France, it is thought that Germany, Holland, Austria and Belgium are reintroducing border checks.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Britain has offered Italy practical assistance to help maintain their border controls and asylum processes. We retain the right to not opt into any agreement which will weaken Britain’s borders.”
Meanwhile David Cameron vowed yesterday that British forces will not form part of an “occupying army” in Libya.
The Prime Minister sought to curb fears that Britain was heading for an invasion like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His comments came amid concerns that sending UK military personnel to advise Libyan rebels was a sign of “mission creep”.
Mr Cameron told BBC Radio Scotland: “We’re not allowed, rightly, to have an invading army or an occupying army. That’s not what we want, that’s not what the Libyans want, that’s not what the world wants.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants Mr Cameron to accompany him on a trip to the Libyan rebel bastion of Benghazi, sources claimed yesterday. Downing Street declined to comment