Priti Patel slammed for claiming ‘the British people’ want asylum seekers sent back

Priti Patel, Secretary of State for the Home Department leaves Downing Street; Photo by Peter Summer

Priti Patel, Secretary of State for the Home Department leaves Downing Street; Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

Priti Patel has been slammed on Twitter for suggesting 'The British people' want to take back their borders in response to the migrant crisis.

In a series of tweets on Friday, the home secretary suggested that Britons wanted to 'take back control of our borders' following a sharp rise of asylum seekers crossing the English Channel for Britain in unsafe dinghies.

Patel's tweet comes as up to 235 arrived in boats on Thursday - the single biggest influx of migrants into the UK since the refugee crisis began.

In response, the home secretary issued a tweet that was roundly mocked on social media in which she threatened to send in the Royal Navy to stem the flow of crossings.

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She was told by the Ministry of Defence her plans had 'more holes than Swiss cheese' and would face a barrage of legal challenges under international maritime law.

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As more boats arrived, Patel tweeted: 'I know that when the British people say they want to take back control of our borders – this is exactly what they mean,' adding, 'we also need the cooperation of the French to intercept boats and return migrants back to France.'

Patel's comments were slammed on Twitter as 'disgusting' and 'inflammatory'.

Professor Brian Cox tweeted: 'I'm so sick of this 'The British People' nonsense. It's inflammatory and divisive and also errant vacuous nonsense with no meaning in a multi-party democracy. The phrase should be banned from political discourse.'

Campaigner Alexandra Phillips said: 'Fact Check: it's completely legal to sail a small boat here & to seek asylum in the U.K. Shame on the heartless Tories for perpetuating this type of dangerous politics which can lead to death.'

Stephen Hale, the chief executive of Refugee Action wrote: '4,000 people have crossed the Channel in 2020. #facts

'154, 620 people claimed asylum in France in 2019. #facts.'

Matt Bristow pointed out: 'The number of COVID-19 deaths in the UK is appalling and unacceptably high. The British government's record is shameful.

'Rather than let you spend time thinking about that, we'd like you to get yourself worked up about a few desperate people in dinghies instead.'

Immigration specialist Colin Yeo wrote: 'As far as we can tell from this short thread, the UK government still has zero idea of how to negotiate a successor to the Dublin Regulation we have decided to leave because we opted for a hard Brexit. 'Take back control' they said. The reality is we've surrendered it.'

London Labour councillor Stella Creasy said refugees would continue to arrive unless the Home Office reinstate its resettlement programme.

'If you want to stop traffickers, don't be distracted by dog whistles about dinghies - read this and demand a home Sec who does their job,' she wrote with a link to an article on the issue.

Sharing a tweet from a foreign French ambassador suggesting that cooperation with France would have to be renegotiated after Brexit, LBC radio host James O'Brien said: 'The state of our government is perfectly encapsulated in the question of whether Priti Patel understands this or is pretending not to in order to inflame & distract 'the British people'. Those are the only choices.'

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