Tory Cabinet minister Patrick McLoughlin repeats David Cameron's 'bunch of migrants' line

The PM has already defended the comments

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Indy Politics

A Conservative Cabinet minister has defended David Cameron’s use of the phrase “bunch of migrants” to describe the refugee camps in northern France.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLouglin told an audience on BBC Question Time that Mr Cameron had simply described Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to the camp at the weekend.

“He said 'a bunch of migrants.' That's a description of what Jeremy Corbyn has surrounded himself with when he went marching over to Calais,” Mr McLoughlin said. 

An audience member had accused Mr Cameron of inciting prejudice after he used the dismissive language to refer to the people in camps in northern France.

Labour MP Jess Philips, who was appearing alongside Mr McLoughlin on the programme, criticised the minister’s response.

“They are people! They are people who've had it much worse than you've ever had it in your life,” she said.

The PM has already defended the comments himself, telling Sky News earlier this week: “I was making a very clear point that Jeremy Corbyn was meeting with migrants and telling them they could all come to Britain.”

In fact, Labour’s policy is for the Home Office to consider admitting some people in the camps with connections to Britain, including those who have British passports.

The party’s leader Mr Corbyn has also called for the Government to get other EU nations to take their fair share of refugees and migrants in Europe.

The British government has refused to take any refugees who have travelled to Europe, in contrast to Germany, which is expecting a million people this year.

Ministers have previously said that accepting people and providing other assistance – including search and rescue in the Mediterranean Sea – would encourage people to make the journey to Europe.

The Government has refused to take part in UN and EU refugee quotas and is instead taking 4,000 Syrian refugees a year from camps near the Syrian conflict zone.