David Cameron sparks outrage referring to Calais refugees as 'bunch of migrants'

Speaking at PMQs, he says of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell: 'They met with a bunch of migrants in Calais and said they could all come to Britain'

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 27 January 2016 13:30 GMT
David Cameron refers to people in Calais as 'bunch of migrants'

David Cameron has faced an immediate backlash after he dismissively described refugees fleeing war in squalid camps in Calais as "a bunch of migrants".

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron ranked Jeremy Corbyn's visit to refugee camps in northern France with political issues such as the Falklands and the unions.

Mr Corbyn met women with emaciated children and victims of torture when he went to Calais and the less well-known but "far worse" camp of Grande-Synth near Dunkirk.

On Wednesday lunchtime, the Prime Minister responded to questions from Mr Corybn on the tax deal signed with Google this week and whether or not more could have been taken by HMRC.

He said: "The idea that those two right honourable gentlemen would stand up to anyone in this regard is laughable.

"Look at the record over the last week, they met with the unions and gave them flying pickets.

"They met with the Argentinians and they gave them the Falkland Islands.

"They met with a bunch of migrants in Calais they said they could all come to Britain.

"The only people they never stand up for are the British people and hard-working tax-payers."

Some backbench MPs shouted back "bunch of migrants?!" in apparent shock.

Yvette Cooper, Labour's former shadow Home Secretary, said she has raised a point of order calling for him to withdraw the "divisive, not statesmanlike" comment.

Andy Burnham, the current shadow Home Secretary, said: "Once again, Cameron's mask slips. He just dismissed desperate people fleeing conflict as a "bunch of migrants" - on Holocaust Memorial Day."

The Government is currently considering proposals for Britain to take a few thousand additional unaccompanied refugee children, above and beyond the 20,000 the UK will take over this Parliament.

But the comments were particularly charged on Wednesday given the background of Holocaust Memorial Day, with the Second World War seen by many as the last time Europe faced a refugee crisis on this scale.

Later on in the Prime Minister's Questions session, Mr Cameron was pressed on the issue of Saudi Arabia's apparently indiscriminate air strikes in Yemen, in a conflict which is creating new refugees every day to fuel the crisis.

Mr Corbyn urged the Prime Minister to launch an inquiry into British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing a "very disturbing" new UN report into international law breaches in Yemen.

Mr Cameron insisted that "we have the strictest rules for arms exports [of] almost any country anywhere in the world".

"And let me remind him we are not a member of the Saudi-led coalition, we are not directly involved in the Saudi-led coalition's operations. British personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes," he says.

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