The foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has weighed in to the debate over migration with some of the government’s strongest language yet, claiming millions of marauding African migrants pose a threat to the EU’s standard of living and social structure.
Senior Labour figures responded by accusing Hammond of scaremongering after he claimed Europe “can’t protect itself” if it has to take in millions of migrants from Africa.
Speaking to the BBC while visiting Singapore on Sunday, Hammond said: “The gap in standards of living between Europe and Africa means there will always be millions of Africans with the economic motivation to try to get to Europe.”
He said: “So long as there are large numbers of pretty desperate migrants marauding around the area, there always will be a threat to the tunnel security. We’ve got to resolve this problem ultimately by being able to return those who are not entitled to claim asylum back to their countries of origin.”
Three of the candidates to be Labour’s next leader condemned Hammond’s use of language. Shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, described it as “alarmist and unhelpful”, and Liz Kendall said there should be no place for dehumanising language in the debate. Jeremy Corbyn said Hammond’s comments were part of a pattern of language designed to whip up prejudice and hostility.
Hammond’s intervention is the latest evidence that the government is heightening its anti-immigration rhetoric in response to the migrant crisis in Calais, but its use of language surrounding the issue has already led ministers into controversy.
In July, rights groups and politicians rounded on David Cameron when he told ITV news that there was a “swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean” to seek a better life in Britain.
Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham criticised the prime minister’s phrasing, tweeting: “Cameron calling Calais migrants a ‘swarm’ is nothing short of disgraceful. Confirms there’s no dog-whistle these Bullingdon Boys won’t blow.”
Surprising though that even when it is apparent that many of these “immigrants” are from Asian and Middle East countries like Iran and Syria, the government and the BBC according to a report on the same issue in the World news last night, deliberately refer to these people as Africans. Could it be the institutionalised bias agains Africans is finally rearing its head and these language is really intended to whip up nationwide Anti-African sentiments and racial tensions?
Culled from the Guardian