3 Dec 2014

UN ‘b*******’ migration comments ‘ignorant’ says Ukip

Remarks by a UN expert condemning the UK’s attitude to immigration as “b*******” are dismissed by Ukip as “coarse and petulant.”

In an interview with the Independent newspaper Francois Crepeau, the UN special rapporteur for migrants’ rights, bemoaned the prevailing negative political rhetoric around immigration in the UK.

Mr Crepeau said “the fantasy is that there is a core British culture that was created probably 2,000 years ago and carried on, and now it’s being threatened by all those barbarians that are coming to our gate… this is utter b*******, but who is going to say this? That is why I think we have a problem with political conversations that we can’t have.”

‘Not cool’

Mr Crepeau called for the EU to open more legal avenues for migrants to come and fill jobs, saying: “It was a ‘multicultural, diverse, open society’ that created ‘Cool Britannia’ in the 1990s. If Britannia is ruled by the Ukip, or with Ukip-type policies, it is not going to be cool.”

In response, Ukip culture spokesman Peter Whittle told Channel 4 News: “Mr Crepeau’s coarse and petulant remarks reveal him not only to be shockingly arrogant and ignorant, but also, in his praise for Blair’s Cool Britannia, terribly behind the times.

“British people have always been particularly open to the wider world and other cultures, and welcoming to newcomers. But they’ve been so while also having great pride in centuries of British culture, one which has produced the world’s greatest literature, greatest scientific achievement and indeed, its greatest pop and rock music. There’s nothing illusionary about that.”

Mortal danger

Mr Crepeau also expressed his concern over the rise of populist anti-immigration parties across Europe, saying the reluctance of other politicians to challenge them could lead to more immigrants drowning as they attempt to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean in dangerous overcrowded boats.

The decision to scale down search and rescue operations by EU maritime patrols in order to deter migrants has been widely criticised. But the Home Office told Channel 4 News: “The UK and its European partners have also angered to enhance co-operation within the EU, and to work with countries of origin and transit, to tackle the causes of illegal immigration.”

See our special report: Dying to get here - survivors of the Med's migrant graveyard

Speaking on Tuesday, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett told Channel 4 News we have to do everything possible to ensure that people “are not left to drown in the Med”, adding that the UK should do everything possible in humanitarian terms, given the security situation in many of the migrants’ home countries was something “we had a big part in creating.”

She said that fleeing refugees understand how very dangerous the crossing is, and that in Syria the boats leaving from there are known as “death ships,” but “these are desperate people.”

Describing the traffickers as “evil” and acknowledging that there were “no easy answers”, Conservative MP Nadhim Zaharwi of the foreign affairs select committee, countered that “our obligation is to persuade these people not to take these risks.”