Priti Patel has said migrants are fleeing to Britain ‘because they claim France is racist’.
The Home Secretary was trying to quell rising Tory anger over the increasing arrivals when she told MPs on a conference call migrants believed ‘racism’ could prevent them from getting a job in France.
One Tory MP told The Sun she made the claim after being asked what was behind the surge in cross-Channel crossings.
The MP said: ‘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 Ms Patel ‘didn’t believe any of this to be true’ and was merely trying to detail the ‘pull factors’ for migrants.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Home Secretary is clearly frustrated by the increasing number of small boats crossing the channel – this is compounded by the fact we are currently restricted 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.’
The remarks have angered some French politicians who labelled them ‘absurd’ and ‘untrue’.
A politician from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling LREM party said: ‘Hateful claims are not a healthy part of politics, but this woman seems to spread them all the time.’
Another French MP told Mail Online: ‘Madam 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, Madam Patel should not be spreading them in such a callous manner.’
It comes after the mayor of Calais accused Ms Patel of ‘declaring maritime war’ on France with her attempts to get the Royal Navy to block migrants in the Channel.
More than 1,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in the last 10 days.
The latest surge brings this year’s arrivals to at least 4,511 – more than double the number of migrants who arrived in the UK last year.
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