There could be “waves of millions” of migrants coming to Britain if the EU moves as a bloc to stop migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, Nigel Farage has said.
The Ukip leader said the Royal Navy could be dispatched to stop the deaths but that he would not support an EU policy to make the crossing safer if it left to “unlimited numbers” of people making the journey.
“I’ve already said I’m prepared to accept some people that have literally nowhere to go but beyond that, I’m sorry we cannot have yet another unlimited wave coming into Britain,” he told ITV News last night.
“I’m prepared to redirect part of the foreign budget, part of our EU contributions, and sending the Royal Navy to help stop people drowning in the Mediterranean. I’m prepared to do a lot but we cannot open our doors again to unlimited numbers.”
Mr Farage said the Italian and Greek government had to send a “message” to migrants to prevent “millions” from making the crossing.
“I’m happy to send the Royal Navy, I’m happy to stop people drowning in the Mediterranean. But it needs the cooperation of the Italian and Greek governments to say we cannot accept an unlimited number of people crossing over. If that message is not sent, many millions of people will come,” he argued.
He said that while “on one hand it may appear to be the decent thing to do” to rescue the drowning migrants, public opinion would be against any resulting increase in migration.
The British government opposes rescue missions in the Mediterranean because ministers theorise that allowing people to drown could deter others from making the journey.
In a statement released on Sunday the Foreign Secretrary Philip Hammond blamed ‘traffickers’ for encouraging people to flee conflicts and come to Europe but was silent on helping families who might drown in future.
“We must target the traffickers who are responsible for so many people dying at sea and prevent their innocent victims from being tricked or forced into making these perilous journeys,” he said, calling for a “comprehensive, co-ordinated response” to the regular deaths.
Mr Hammond said he was “horrified at the appalling loss of life” at the crossing and accused groups assisting the migrants to make the crossing of “cynicism”.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that that rescuing drowning people was a sign of “basic humanity” which David Cameron lacks.
“On immigration his government combines callousness with incompetence. They don’t show basic humanity and say rescuing drowning people is a pull factor for immigration,” he said at PMQs.
Around 950 people are thought to have drowned when a boat capsized in the Mediterranean late this weekend.
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