The British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has invited the anger of pro-migration activists by suggesting boat migrants coming across the English Channel are not genuine refugees, because they are already in a safe country before coming to the UK.
The politician — who with the Prime Minister and Chancellor holds one of the high offices of the British state — made the remarks Wednesday afternoon while visiting the port of Dover in Kent, which has seen a rapidly rising number of migrant boat crossings over the Christmas period.
Questioning why the migrants coming to the UK were being called asylum seekers despite fleeing France, a relatively peaceful Western democracy, Mr Javid said: “A question has to be asked: if you are a genuine asylum seeker, why have you not sought asylum in the first safe country you arrived in?”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 30, 2018
The Times reports he said: “Because France is not a country where anyone would argue it is not safe in anyway whatsoever, and if you are genuine then why not seek asylum in your first safe country?”
During the visit the home secretary met UK Border Force officers on the cutter HMC Searcher, the lone Border Force ship in UK waters. Her three sister ships are deployed to the Mediterranean, one of them stationed at Gibraltar.
The home secretary also stepped up his rhetoric on assessing asylum cases, telling television crews on the quayside that while they would be judged in the “normal way”, the British government would work to discourage others following.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 31, 2018
Mr Javid said: “If you do somehow make it to the UK, we will do everything we can to make sure that you are often not successful because we need to break that link, and to break that link means we can save more lives.”
The comments triggered instant outrage from migration activists who were widely quoted in the British press attacking the home secretary trying to dissuade would-be migrants from putting their lives at risk in the English Channel, the busiest shipping lane in the world.
The Guardian, which also slammed Javid for calling the Channel boat migrants “illegal migrants”, reported several such voices including Refugee Council boss Dr Lisa Doyle.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 1, 2019
The advocate said: “The 1951 refugee convention acknowledges that refugees may enter countries through irregular routes and should not be penalised for this… The outcome of an asylum application cannot be pre-judged, irrespective of how that person reached the country.
“It’s a shame that the home secretary seems to need reminding that seeking asylum is a right and the UK has an obligation to assess claims fairly and grant protection to those who need it.”
Labour’s Stella Creasy accused Javid of pretending to “play tough for votes”.