UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in French racism storm

After a supposedly "private" video conference with Conservative parliamentarians, Home Secretary Priti Patel finds herself accused of labelling France "a racist country". She reportedly claimed that the current surge of economic migrants posing as "refugees" is driven by the need to escape "racist" France, where they feared they would be tortured.

One participant is reported by The Sun as saying “Priti was asked why the migrants are so desperate to leave France and come here. She told us some believe racism to be an issue. They claim they feel discriminated against when, for example, looking for work in France. Others claimed they feared being tortured if they stayed in France or Germany. Priti stressed that she didn’t believe any of this to be true. She was merely trying to explain the pull factors.”

One former UK MEP told EUToday "the UK pull factor is the right to free housing and healthcare, welfare payments from day one, and the knowledge that they will be able to earn money through illegal activities as the police don't have the resources to bother them".

A total of 4,511 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year, more than double the number thought to have made the crossing in 2019.

The French response has been sharp: "Hateful claims are not a healthy part of politics, but this woman seems to spread them all the time'" said one parliamentarian from the ruling LREM party, with an oppositionist stating "Madame Patel has caused a lot of upset already with absurd and untrue claims about our forces not stopping immigrant boats. Wherever these latest claims about racism came from, Madame Patel should not be spreading them in such a callous manner".

Migrant Camp France

The French government has been demanding some £30 million from the UK to help it stop the flow. Meanwhile reports are rife of police harassing migrants, destroying their tents and their belongings in order to "encourage" them to risk the Channel crossing more quickly.

On July 2nd the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights ruled that authorities “had failed in their duties” with regard to the three asylum-seekers, finding France responsible for the conditions in which the three – an Afghan, a Russian and an Iranian – “had been living for several months: sleeping rough, without access to sanitary facilities, having no means of subsistence and constantly in fear of being attacked or robbed”.

The court ruled “the applicants had thus been victims of degrading treatment, showing a lack of respect for their dignity”.

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