‘Refugees Are Welcome Here!’

How Public Opinion Got Ahead of Government in Summer 2015 and Stayed There

in European Judaism

In the summer of 2015, UK public attitudes towards refugees shifted significantly in the face of a substantial and sustained increase in the number of people entering Europe from the Middle East and North Africa in search of refugee protection. Contrary to what might have been expected, given that the prevailing public mood on refugees had up to this point been, at best, guarded and wary, this change in attitudes was not only overwhelmingly positive, but it also forced the UK government into a dramatic and significant policy change. This article considers whether this shift in opinion represented a real sea change in public attitudes, or was a fleeting and unsustainable compassion spasm.

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