Cameron’s ‘bunch of migrants’ slur against Calais refugees branded ‘shameful’
Prime Minister David Cameron has come under fire for using inflammatory language to describe refugees stranded in Calais, offhandedly describing them as a “bunch of migrants.”
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday afternoon, the PM deployed the phrase as he leveled a string of intended insults at Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“Look at their record over the last week. They met with the unions and gave them flying pickets.
“They met with the Argentinians, 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 hardworking taxpayers,” Cameron said, to guffaws of laughter from the Tory government benches.
First deporting Muslim mams and now an inflammatory "bunch of migrants" attack. Anybody would think Cameron's tooting a racist horn— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) January 27, 2016
Corbyn suggested refugees who have a family link in Britain should be allowed into the country. However, the PM dismissed his proposals, saying it would make the French border a “magnet” for more migrants.
Confronting Home Secretary Theresa May about the PM’s controversial attack outside London’s Millbank Tower on Wednesday, RT’s Afshin Rattansi asked if Calais refugees really are simply “a bunch of migrants.” May refused to comment.
The PM’s controversial comments instantly sparked outrage on social media. Former Labour Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called on Cameron to withdraw his comments.
“Cameron very wrong to talk of a ‘bunch of migrants’ in PMQs. Divisive, not statesmanlike,” Cooper tweeted.
Cameron very wrong to talk of "a bunch of migrants" in #PMQs. Divisive, not statesmanlike. Raised point of order calling on him to withdraw— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) January 27, 2016
Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said the PM “diminishes” his office and Britain with his comment.
“Whether Mr Cameron planned to use this phrase in advance or whether it was an off the cuff throw away remark it shows his true attitude towards those most in need,” he told the Huffington Post.
Journalist Miranda Green said: “Bizarre that the same PM speaks in hushed tones of Holocaust Memorial Day then 15 mins later dismisses ‘a bunch of migrants.’”
Bizarre that the same PM speaks in hushed tones of of Holocaust Memorial Day then 15 mins later dismisses 'a bunch of migrants'.— Miranda Green (@greenmiranda) January 27, 2016
Supporting the PM, Conservative MP Anna Soubry told BBC Radio 4 she may “not necessarily” have used the same language as Cameron, but added that she will “not criticize the prime minister for this.”
“What everybody forgets is, in the heat of thing, one says things that you might say in a conversation which you might not necessary say when it’s analyses and picked apart,” she said.
“We all use slang.”
“I will not criticize the prime minister on this. I know when you are standing at the dispatch box … You’ve for all the row and noise around you, it is very easy to use a word which on reflection may not be the best way. I am sure he meant to say ‘a group.’”
“I would be amazed if that was a scripted line,” she added. “I don’t believe that for one moment. If anyone says that they are being silly.”
Some of Cameron’s critics claimed Wednesday that he may have purposefully stoked controversy over refugees to distract attention away from the row over Chancellor George Osborne’s low-tax deal with internet giant Google.