Tories condemned for 'vile racism' after linking EU immigration to terrorism

'There is a xenophobia issue with Conservative politicians who are scapegoating EU citizens instead of looking at their own failings'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 11 December 2019 10:38
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Tories condemned for 'vile racism' after linking EU immigration to terrorism

The Conservatives have been accused of “vile racism” after claiming the free movement of EU citizens is responsible for terrorism and serious crime.

Brandon Lewis, the security minister, was criticised after an eve-of-election attack on “the threat to our national security” from the freeflow of people across EU borders.

He published a detailed dossier highlighting 20 terrorists who he claimed would be “free to enter the UK under Jeremy Corbyn”, if Labour kept free movement rules.

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, condemned Mr Lewis, saying: “This is more nonsense from the fake-news Tories.

“EU migrants are propping up our struggling NHS and social care systems. To conflate them with terrorists is just more vile racism from the Tories.”

More than 3.2m people in the UK were born in EU countries, their rights now in jeopardy from Brexit and the need to apply for ‘settled status’ to remain in the country.

The security services have long identified ‘homegrown’ terrorists – both Islamist and from the far-right – as the greatest terror threat to the British public.

The row comes after Boris Johnson was widely criticised after saying EU nationals who have made Britain their home have treated it like “their own” country for too long.

Nicolas Hatton, founder of the3million group, representing EU citizens in the UK, told The Independent: “There is a xenophobia issue with Conservative politicians who are scapegoating EU citizens instead of looking at their own failing.”

“It might be an effective electoral strategy to point the fingers at immigrants but it's wrong and untrue.

“The vast majority of terrorists in the last 10 years were born in Britain and no EU citizens were involved in such acts, apart from saving lives during the attacks, like in London Bridge recently.”

In its manifesto, Labour said free movement would be part of the negotiations for a softer Brexit deal, if it wins the election, to be put to a Final Say referendum with Remain the other option.

But Mr Lewis said: “Free movement with the EU is plainly a threat to our national security, and Jeremy Corbyn has made clear that he will maintain free movement in all circumstances.”

He added: “With Brexit we have a once in a generation opportunity to take control of our borders.

“Tens of thousands of EU citizens with previous criminal convictions came to the attention of British police last year.”

The dossier included a French national convicted of bombing the Paris metro in 1995 –while a German national was involved in bombing a British yacht club way back in 1972.

The Tories also drew up a list of 19 dangerous criminals currently in the UK, claiming the authorities are unable to deport them because of existing rules.

It is unclear whether the party is referring to the separate European Convention on Human Rights – which some Tories have long targeted for withdrawal.

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