Boris Johnson has been accused of scapegoating migrants and refugees over Channel comments in which he described the crossings as ‘dangerous and criminal’.
When describing the plight of refugees who are risking their lives by crossing the Channel, Boris Johnson used “inaccurate and inflammatory” language, describing the migrants crossings as “very bad and studpid and dangerous and criminal”.
Humanitarian groups and charities have criticised the prime minister for using this language, urging the government to do more to offer safe and legal routes for refugees fleeing violence who are hoping to come to Britain.
This comes following record numbers of people crossing the Dover strait in small, makeshift boats.
Following a Home Office request for military assistance to patrol the Channel, an RAF A400M Atlas transport plane has been flying between the waters from south-east England and northern France.
In 2020, more than 4,100 migrants and refugees have reached the UK via small boats.
Later today there will be talks between the UK and French governments, and Johnson told reporters yesterday that it would be “helpful” if the French would work with the UK to stop the crossings.
He said: “We want to stop that, working with the French, make sure that they understand that this isn’t a good idea, this is a very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do.”
He added: “But then there’s a second thing we’ve got to do, and that is to look at the legal framework that we have that means that when people do get here, it is very, very difficult to then send them away again, even though blatantly they’ve come here illegally.”
The language used here by Johnson fails to understand the context behind someone seeking refuge and shows little compassion to the plight of those who are having to leave their homes in search of safety.
Lisa Doyle, director of advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: “It’s incredibly disappointing to hear the prime minister using such inaccurate and inflammatory language to describe men, women and children who are desperate enough to make perilous journeys across the busiest shipping channel in the world.
“Seeking asylum is not a crime, and it is legitimate that people have to cross borders to do so…Instead of scapegoating people in desperate circumstances, the prime minister and his government could address this by ensuring that people do not have to take these risks.”