No10 distances itself from minister who branded migrants ungrateful

No10 distances itself from minister who branded migrants ungrateful

No10 distances itself from minister who said migrants had ‘a bit of a cheek’ to complain about conditions at crisis hit migrant centre

  • Chris Philp said it was ‘a bit of a cheek’ for Channel migrants to then complain
  • Spoke amid criticism of conditions at the Manston processing site in Kent
  • No10: ‘Those individuals deserve to be treated with compassion and respect’ 

Downing Street refused to back a minister who suggested Channel migrants who complained about conditions in a UK arrivals camp were ungrateful

Chris Philp said it was ‘a bit of a cheek’ for people who entered the Uk illegally to then complain about their treatment.  

The Policing Minister made the remarks amid criticism of conditions at the Manston processing site in Kent. 

It is designed to hold 1,600 people for 24 hours before they are found accommodation elsewhere. 

But up to 4,000 have been kept there at any one time in recent weeks, though the number has fallen to around 2,600.

Asked about Mr Philp’s remarks to Times Radio, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘As we’ve been clear, those individuals deserve to be treated with compassion and respect.

‘Obviously the current approach is not working and it is placing huge pressures – both in terms of on the Government and on the local area – and that is presenting significant challenges, which is why we continue to work both with French colleagues and more broadly to try and resolve this issue.’

Home Office minister Chris Philp said told Sky that Manston was legally compliant days after immigration minister Robert Jenrick suggested it was not. And he later told Times Radio: ‘If people choose to enter a country illegally, and unnecessarily … it’s a bit of a cheek to then start complaining about the conditions.’ 

Ministers face calls to get a grip as it emerged that people who crossed the Channel in small boats were being allowed to leave an arrival center without undergoing basic checks, to ease overcrowding.

Home Office minister Chris Philp said told Sky that Manston was legally compliant days after immigration minister Robert Jenrick suggested it was not.

And he later told Times Radio:  ‘If people choose to enter a country illegally, and unnecessarily … it’s a bit of a cheek to then start complaining about the conditions.

‘And you don’t even have to come here, they were in France already and previously often passed through Belgium, Germany, and many other countries on the way.’

He added that the groups of migrants from Manston left stranded in London had told immigration officials they had addresses to go to and suggested something may have been ‘lost in translation’. 

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: ‘Chris Philp’s comments reveal a shocking and callous complacency over the disaster unfolding at Manston. It is unbelievable that as we hear reports of sexual assualts, disease, and chronic overcrowding, his response is to accuse those who complain of ”cheek”.

‘Rather than dismissing the problem he should start to show some leadership.’ 

Some 14 council leaders in Kent have written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, saying: ‘We have hundreds of mostly Albanian [migrants] not claiming asylum and being bailed and dropped at mid-Kent train stations with no follow-up where they go or if they leave Kent.’ 

Meanwhile ministers are also facing pushback from locals in Kent who are at the forefront of the arrival of more than 40,000 people in small boats this year.

Ashford MP Damian Green, a Tory former minister and the MP for Ashford, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Kent itself is really under strain because it is not just all the points of accommodation, it’s the fact that you need to find school places for these children.

‘There are (local) children in Kent being told there are no school places around town. This is completely unacceptable, we have to spread the burden around the country and we have to make the whole system faster and more efficient.

‘If we don’t do that this will become a long-running problem which will really affect people in their daily lives.’

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