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Immigration Minister Warns Against "Demonising" Migrants After Suella Braverman's "Invasion" Comment

Suella Braverman described migrants arriving in the UK as an "invasion". (Alamy)

3 min read

Robert Jenrick has said that ministers need to "choose words carefully" after the Home Secretary has faced criticism for describing migrants arriving on the south coast of England as an "invasion" in a Commons debate on Monday.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the remark, which came just a day after a firebombing of a refugee centre in Dover, was "highly irresponsible".

Speaking to Sky News on Tuesday, immigration minister Robert Jenrick refused to repeat the remark, and questioned whether the choice of words by Braverman was appropriate. 

"In jobs like mine you have to choose words carefully, and I would never demonise people in search for a better life," he said.

He believed Braverman had chosen the term to express "the sheer scale of the illegal migration that we're seeing as a country right now" after illegal Channel crossings reached a record high this summer. 

"We can't brush that under the carpet," Jenrick added. 

But the immigration minister avoided directly criticising the Home Secretary over the comments, which he claimed "expresses very clearly the concerns that millions of people feels across the country".

Conservative MP Roger Gale, whose constituency includes refugee processing centres, said there was a "very great danger" posed by her "inflammatory language".

"People need to use their language carefully because extremists latch on to those words," he added. 

Robert Jenrick outside Downing StreetThe embattled Home Secretary is facing growing criticism over her treatment of migrations crossing the Channel, following reports she had blocked migrants being moved from processing centres to hotels, and ignored legal advice discouringing the move, both of which she strongly denied in the Commons on Monday

Thousands of people have been placed in Manston in recent weeks following an increase in Channel crossings, with reports the site has faced overcrowding and outbreaks of disease.

Jenrick admitted some people had been kept for longer than the mandated 24 hour period, and that the situation was not "satisfactory".

"There are people who stayed for over 24 hours, there are people sleeping on the floor, on camping matts," he explained. 

"This is not a satisfactory situation, I am not here to defend that. I've been in this role less than a week and my job is to sort situations like this out and that is exactly what we are doing.

"We have procured more hotels very rapidly and more are coming onboard literally every day so individuals can leave this site.

"We have also put in place better conditions there, for example, there is now a very good medical centre at the site providing care for people, particularly the families who are there."

But he denied the government was the "root cause" of problems at processing sites, saying that "the problem is that thousands of people are crossing the Channel illegally every day".

He added: "Our asylum system was not designed to receive thousands of people every day illegally crossing."

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