Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s received substantial backlash for a Twitter screed backing illegal immigration amid Britain’s ongoing boat migrant crisis.
Criminal people-smugglers have orchestrated a massive upsurge in illegal migrants crossing the English Channel in small and often dangerously overcrowded boats — on top of existing, often violently activated routes via lorries, ferries, and the Channel Tunnel — in recent months, with the British government unable or unwilling to either turn them back immediately or organise more than a handful of deportations.
With Home Secretary Priti Patel claiming she is working on a plan to tackle the crisis, however, Unilever-owned ice-cream hawkers Ben & Jerry’s took it upon themselves to weigh in on the public debate, tweeting directly at the Tory politician to tell her that “the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture”.
Hey @PritiPatel we think the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture. We pulled together a thread for you..
— Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) August 11, 2020
Skipping over the question of how migrants in France can be said to be fleeing war or torture — or indeed climate change, which if a problem at all is presumably no less of an issue in Britain than it is in France — Ben & Jerry’s followed up by claiming that “People wouldn’t make dangerous journeys if they had any other choice.”
Why migrants in France — a safe, first world EU member-state — could not choose to claim asylum in France, or any of the other safe countries most will have passed through on their way there, was not elaborated on, with Ben & Jerry’s simply insisting on “more safe and legal routes” into Britain.
The brand account went on to make the tendentious claims that “People cannot be illegal” and that “‘Stronger’ borders aren’t the answer and only puts more lives at risk” — a claim at odds with experiences in Australia and Italy, which saw fewer attempted crossings and fewer drownings after they made it clear boat migrants would not be accepted — linking an opinion piece in the left-wing Guardian as evidence.
OOOF! Home Office source: “Priti is working day&night to bring an end to these small boat crossings, which are facilitated by international criminal gangs&are of serious concern. If that means upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food then so be it.” https://t.co/QIrfXOjZ5w
— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) August 11, 2020
However, Ben & Jerry’s did not receive the universal praise they might have expected from the public — which largely disagrees with the idea that Britain has a responsibility to take in illegal boat migrants, according to polling — with even Boris Johnson’s administration biting back, despite its usual timidity on immigration issues.
“Priti is working day and night to bring an end to these snall boat crossings, which are facilitated by international criminal gangs and are of serious concern. If that means upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food then so be it,” a Home Office source told the BBC.
“Stop posing as some kind of hippy ice cream play,” chipped in the BBC’s own interrogator-in-chief, Andrew Neil.
“You’re now wholly owned by a massive global conglomerate called Unilever. Perhaps if it paid the taxes HMRC thinks you should pay we could afford to accommodate many more asylum seekers,” he added.
Can I have a large scoop of statistically inaccurate virtue signalling with my grossly overpriced ice cream please. https://t.co/rkZFN9EO5y
— James Cleverly (@JamesCleverly) August 11, 2020
James Cleverly, a government minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was also scathing, remarking sarcastically: “Can I have a large scoop of statistically inaccurate virtue signalling with my grossly overpriced ice cream please.”
Some figures on the liberal left were also unimpressed with the brand’s intervention, with LBC radio host and former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Maajid Nawaz being particularly brutal.
“Hey [Ben & Jerry’s UK], know that the damage your parent firm [Unilever] has done to the psychology of billions of people of colour globally (including my family from South Asia) by peddling racist colonial skin whitening, is simply immeasurable,” he said.
“[People of colour] hate you.”
Hey @benandjerrysUK, know that the damage your parent firm @Unilever has done to the psychology of billions of people of colour globally (including my family from South Asia) by peddling racist colonial skin whitening, is simply immeasurable
PoC hate youhttps://t.co/nOFJZN5J6j
— Maajid أبو عمّار (@MaajidNawaz) August 12, 2020