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Anderson won’t apologise for ‘go back to France’ comment

todayAugust 11, 2023 4

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Anderson won’t apologise for ‘go back to France’ comment

Lee Anderson has refused to apologise for saying asylum seekers who don’t want to be housed on barges should “f*** off back to France”.

But the Conservative deputy chairman also said there was “no doubt” the government had failed to tackle illegal immigration.

The Tory MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire made the remark about asylum seekers after it emerged about 20 of them were granted a last-minute reprieve from boarding the Bibby Stockholm accommodation vessel on Monday.

The charity Care4Calais said their transfers from hotels were “cancelled” after lawyers challenged the decision to move them on to the barge moored off the Dorset coast.

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Asked by Nigel Farage on his GB News show on Tuesday evening whether he will be apologising for the words he used, Mr Anderson said: “No.”

When questioned by the former Brexit campaigner about whether his use of the “f-word” was in bad taste, Mr Anderson replied: “No… it’s borne out of frustration.

“It’s borne out of me being absolutely furious. It’s not just me that’s being furious, it’s my constituents and millions of people up and down the country.”

A general view of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Portland Port in Dorset, which will house up to 500 Asylum seekers. Picture date: Tuesday August 8, 2023.

Image:
A general view of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge which is set to house up to 500 asylum seekers

And when asked if the Conservative government had failed to tackle illegal immigration effectively, Mr Anderson said: “We have failed on this, there’s no doubt about it.

“We said we’re going to fix it, it is a failure. But we have got policies in place – I know it’s a bit hard for the British public at the moment to understand what we’re trying to do with the Rwanda flights, and the change in legislation, the Illegal Migration Bill.

“It seems very slow and cumbersome – we’re up against it, we’ve got the lefty lawyers, the human rights campaigners, we’ve got the charities, everything’s against us.

“I’m not making excuses, but it’s slowing us down. If we had the whole of parliament behind us I’m sure this would have got through by now.”

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Barge reminds migrant of Islamic State

Mr Anderson added it makes him feel “sick” every time a boat carrying migrants crosses the Channel and it makes him “furious” when asylum seekers are housed in hotels and on barges.

He said: “I’ve been to Calais, I’ve seen these migrants living in one-man tents, living in absolute squalor.

“Then they get here, we do our best, we bend over backwards to put them in decent accommodation, and all of a sudden they get a choice.”

The government hopes the use of the Bibby Stockholm barge and former military bases to house asylum seekers will reduce the cost of hotel bills.

Home Office minister Sarah Dines said those arriving in the country via unauthorised means should have “basic but proper accommodation” and that they “can’t expect to stay in a four-star hotel”.

She claimed hotels were part of the “pull” factor attracting people to the UK.

Mr Anderson said “grafters” in the oil industry who are “doing a job for this great country of ours” live on barges and “never complain once”.

He continued: “It makes me sick to the pit of my stomach when these lefty lawyers, the charities, the human rights campaigners, say it’s not good enough.

“If it’s not good enough, [the asylum seekers] should go back to France.”

Read More:
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The director of asylum accommodation at the Home Office, Cheryl Avery, speaks to Sky News.

What were Anderson’s initial remarks?

The Tory deputy chairman had sparked controversy when he told Express.co.uk: “If they don’t like barges then they should f*** off back to France.”

He added: “I think people have just had enough.

“These people come across the Channel in small boats… if they don’t like the conditions they are housed in here then they should go back to France, or better not come at all in the first place.”

Downing Street defended his use of the “f-word” when speaking about asylum seekers.

When asked if this view represented the government, Number 10 pointed to comments made by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk, who said the “indignation” of Mr Anderson was well placed.

“The justice secretary was speaking on behalf of the government. That is the response,” the spokesperson told Sky News.

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