Priti Patel claims migrants attempt to cross the Channel because they see France as ‘racist’
Priti Patel spoke to a group of Tory MPs over Zoom after a spoke in Channel crossings (PA)
Priti Patel is said to have suggested migrants who attempt to cross the Channel are doing so because they believe France is a “racist” country.
The home secretary added they “feared being tortured if they stayed” and thought they would be treated better if they made it to the UK
The comments risk worsening relations with Paris over the crisis after they were made to a group of Tory MPs in a Zoom call.
One of those involved told The Sun on Sunday: “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."
They added: “Priti stressed that she didn’t believe any of this to be true. She was merely trying to explain the pull factors.”
It comes after more than 1,000 migrants arrived in the UK in the 10 days to August 13 after crossing the Channel in small boats.
Ms Patel is working on a new “fair borders bill” which the Home Office wants to be in place by the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.
The department told The Sunday Times: “The home secretary is clearly frustrated by the increasing number of small boats crossing the Channel — this is compounded by the fact that we are currently restricted in our response by EU regulations.
“That is why the home secretary is committed, along with other government departments and No 10, to ensuring we have legislation ready following the end of the transition period.
“This legislation will build on our continuing work with the French government to stop these crossings and the small boat commander, Dan O’Mahoney, will be visiting France again this week for further discussions.”
The new figures reveal the total number of people crossing the Channel so far this year to at least 4,511, more than double the amount thought for the whole of 2019.
Immigration minister Chris Philp has promised a "new, comprehensive action plan" to tackle the issue after talks with French officials on Tuesday.