Priti Patel’s migrant conference call

Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary, could have ignited tensions with France during a conference call about migrants illegally entering the UK.

What did Home Secretary say on her conference call?

If certain outlets are to be believed, the UK is currently in the midst of an illegal migrant crisis, with record numbers undertaking a dangerous channel crossing to seek asylum in the UK.

And Priti Patel gave a pretty incendiary assessment of why she thinks hundreds are risking their lives to enter the UK each week – not because the UK is a great place to live, not even because the UK can offer a safe haven, but because France is a “racist country” where they may be “tortured”.

Patel gave this stunning assessment in a conference call with fellow Conservative MPs.

The party has been quick to distance both itself, and Patel, from the comments by asserting that the Home Secretary had made clear these were not her personal views, but one of several factors that have led to so many migrants risking their lives by crossing the world’s busiest shipping lane in overcrowded boats not fit for such a crossing.

Does the Home Secretary think France is racist?

One MP who was on the call, but would like to remain nameless, said: “Priti was asked why the migrants are so desperate to leave France and come here. She told us some believe racism to be an issue.They claim they feel discriminated against when, for example, looking for work in France. Others claimed they feared being tortured if they stayed in France or Germany.

They added: “Priti stressed that she didn’t believe any of this to be true. She was merely trying to explain the pull factors.”

Another unnamed MP, on the other hand, felt that Patel did believe France was essentially a racist country, and they themselves believe France to be more racist that the UK, when she said: “She was calling them racist and she is right. They are more racist than us.”

All of which is a bit crass, racism is unacceptable at any level, and this isn’t a contest over who is the least racist – I dread to think what the French are calling for when you have people in the UK calling for boats of innocent people to be blown out of the water.

A Home Office spokesperson said the UK was working with the French authorities to stem the small boat crossings, but is limited in what it can do until the Brexit transition period comes to an end at the end of the year. Ah, there’s Brexit again.

The spokesperson said: “The home secretary is clearly frustrated by the increasing number of small boats crossing the Channel – this is compounded by the fact we are currently restricted in our response by EU regulations,” the spokesman said.

Adding: “That is why the home secretary is committed, along with other government departments and No 10, to have legislation ready following the end of the transition period.”

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