Ministers have continued to back senior Conservative Lee Anderson after he reportedly said asylum seekers complaining about being moved to an accommodation barge should “f*** off back to France”.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said the deputy Tory Party chairman was expressing the “deep frustration of a large body of the British public” through his remarks about those objecting to being given a bed on board the Bibby Stockholm in Portland, Dorset.
“I think everyone chooses their own language but I think the point Lee Anderson was making is a fair one which I agree with,” Jenrick told LBC.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk also said on Tuesday that there was “a lot of sense” in what he had said.
But Labour has criticised the comments, calling them “wrong” and accusing the Tories of using them to distract from their record on immigration.
Speaking back in September 2021, immigration expert Zoe Gardner effectively put to bed the question of why asylum seekers don’t seek refuge in the first safe country they reach, like France.
Giving evidence on the Nationality and Borders Bill to the Bill Committee in September 2021, Gardner, who works to protect refugees at the European Network on Stateless, laid out the answer to one of the most parrotted questions by the Conservative right.
She explained that most refugees never come to rich countries like the UK, more go to other countries.
Indeed, 86 per cent of those fleeing war and persecution remain in the country neighbouring the one they have fled, such as Turkey, in the instance of Syria, or Poland, in the case of Ukraine.
Those who travel to the UK will have ties to the country, Gardner said, which is why geography has very little to do with where people end up.
Watch her full response below: