Katie Hopkins has claimed boats carrying refugees risking their lives to reach Europe should be turned back, in comments echoing a controversial comment piece that advocated using gunships to deter them from making the journey.
The TV personality, who recently joined the Mail Online as a columnist, called for Britain to leave the European Union as she appeared at Ukip’s annual conference in Doncaster.
Hopkins faced a backlash over a comment piece published five months ago that reacted to the deaths of hundreds of refugees by comparing them to cockroaches when the public was moved by harrowing images emerging from the refugee crisis.
A photograph of Aylan Kurdi, the young Syrian boy whose body was found on a Turkish beach, sparked calls across Europe for governments to accept a quota of refugees.
Earlier in the conference, Hopkins suggested the photo, which was published on the front page of this newspaper, was staged. The three-year-old drowned along with his mother and brother as they tried to reach safety in Greece.
Hopkins did not directly respond to the outpouring of anger after public attention returned to her dehumanising refugees piece. She later vowed she would not to be silenced and on Friday addressed the crisis directly.
Speaking at the conference, she told Sky: “Do I think we need to turn back the boats? Do I think we should be policing the med? Do I think we should be dissuading migrants from making that journey? Absolutely.
“You were all alarmed by the photo of the dead child on the beach, but really, if we stopped those boats from coming, that wouldn’t have happened.”
Hopkins told the Press Association she hoped Britain would vote to leave the EU in the in/out referendum. "We are about to be deluged by a wave of immigration and I don't think it's something our country can cope with any more," she said.
"You all saw a picture in the newspapers and you felt bad about it and so you want to make yourself feel better."
Hopkins insisted she wouldn’t be opening her homes to refugees, an offer made by some members of the public and figures such as Bob Geldof and Eric Cantona. "I stand for British people and putting British people first."
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