Nigel Farage migrants

Nigel Farage Considers Anti-Migrant Rant ‘Essential Work’

Nigel Farage breaks lockdown to film anti-migrant rant

Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, broke nationwide lockdown rules on Tuesday to film an anti-migrant Twitter rant about asylum-seekers arriving in dinghies in the UK. 

The former MEP travelled 100 miles from his home in Kent to broadcast his views from an empty beach in East Sussex, gesturing wildly at the desolate sand where not one boat or any migrants can be seen.

In the four-minute-long video, ironically entitled ‘the truth about illegal migrants is even worse than we thought’, Farage claimed that people are touching UK shores “under the cover of darkness” and are arriving in dinghies and ribs “above and beyond the official figures.” 

Nigel Farage migrants
‘Key worker’ Farage stood upon a desolate beach to fan the flames of hostility towards immigrants. [Image: The Mirror.]

He then called on the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, “to get tough”. He argued that 550 people have made their way to Britain since Coronavirus measures began yet “not one” has been deported or sent back.  

The problem is, only parts of his accusations are true. Quite cunningly, Farage has interwoven fragments of fact in between what can only be described as provocative gossip.

Farage has interwoven fragments of fact in between what can only be described as provocative gossip

Although the Telegraph reported 558 people have arrived in the UK since March 23, a further 500 migrants this year have been intercepted by French border cutters and returned to mainland Europe.

Farage points at beach in anti-migrant rant
Here Farage is seen pointing at an empty beach.

Farage can wring his hands over figures all he wants, but the Home Secretary cannot legally return migrants immediately back to France or their home countries without listening to their claim first.

Despite popular belief, people are able to clandestinely cross into their chosen destination to claim asylum by however means necessary, providing that they can prove they face genuine persecution in their country of origin and that they claim immediately upon arrival.

In fact, there is no other way to claim asylum: you must have already arrived in the UK first. Only those who do not meet the internationally recognised definition of a Refugee in accordance with the Geneva Convention face removal. Some can be returned to France, however, but only if they began their asylum claim there initially.

Of course, if they evade immigration control – as a passerby later seems to suggest to Farage – then they’ll likely be caught, detained and deported at some later date. Then, and only then, are they considered to have broken the law.

Nigel Farage anti migrant rant
When no migrants appear, Farage continues his anti-migrant rant alongside two passersby.

But it is important to consider that very few attempt to live in the shadows of the UK without documentation. Undocumented migrants cannot access financial aid, Legal Aid, the NHS, the labour market or any accommodation. Living so precariously is not sustainable – and by the time they do present themselves to the authorities, they have jeopardised their chances at securing Refugee Status.

Very few attempt to live in the shadows of the UK without documentation

Even so, the asylum process is gruelling. Many people wait longer than six months before they receive even a whiff of a verdict, meaning that many of the 500 migrants Farage is worried about are likely to be in the midst of this waiting game. Some may have already secured Refugee Status while others face incarceration inside an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) for the administrative convenience of the Home Secretary.

Consider the following statistics from 2019: 

  • 35,566 people sought asylum in the UK, a 21% increase from 2018 
  • More than half (52%) of those claiming asylum were granted right to remain in the UK on humanitarian grounds 
  • Only 44% of the 25,487 people detained were deported
  • Across the EU member states, the UK falls below the average number of asylum claims per head of the population (ranking in 17th place)  
  • 52% of those claiming asylum had to wait longer than six months for a decision
  • 7,083 Family Reunification Visas were granted 
  • The top countries of origin for those seeking asylum in the UK were Iran, Albania, Iraq, Pakistan and Eritrea 

Priti Patel is all too familiar with the law and these figures. It is her job to know it, after all.

Refugees attempt to cross border amid covid-19
The UK is bound by international law to protect vulnerable migrants, whether it likes it or not. [Image: MOAS.EU/EPA]

Yet the Home Office has managed to create one loophole to evade the law. By creating an obstacle course across the Channel, equipped with drones, surveillance cameras and border cutters, the idea is that fewer people will manage to reach British soil to claim asylum. However, inevitably, the initiative has only seen people embark on more dangerous voyages – such as at nighttime. The threat of border force returning them to refugee camps carries a far greater weight than the risk of drowning.

The threat of border force returning them to refugee camps carries a far greater weight than the risk of drowning

If both the Home Office and Farage were serious about simultaneously protecting human life, cracking down on migrant numbers and preventing boat crossings, they could lobby for juxtaposed ports abroad to process asylum seekers’ claims there instead. This would put an end to this bizarre game of cat and mouse, reduce the numbers of people held in IRC’s and benefit the British taxpayer.

But, this is of no concern to Farage. Instead, he continued that migrants seeking entry into the UK is nothing short of a “scandal” that is “far bigger than anyone realises”. He believes the press “aren’t interested” in the numbers. 

Where Farage is obtaining the ‘real’ figure of migrant crossings is yet to be seen. Hopefully, he has not arrived at this assumption based on eyewitness accounts of random strangers – whom he also ‘interviews’ in his video.

These two members of the public appear to march alongside Farage’s anti-migrant cabal with one claiming to see boats every day in Dover and “loads of immigrant boats coming in”. 

Somehow, Farage seems to think he enjoys ‘key worker’ status to deliver duplicitous conspiracy theories

One anecdote included seeing people arrive and “kiss the stones” before “running up the cliff”. Farage then decided that this was evidence enough that refugees are “trying to escape” the law and that they probably have “jobs to go to”. 

He concluded that “the whole thing is an outrage”, especially since Coronavirus has been found in refugee camps overseas “so there’s a risk of that as well”, he added.

Farage’s sudden concern for COVID-19 comes only days after he admitted that he frequently breaks government guidance. And the video itself was met with a barrage of backlash from the public claiming he has again broken lockdown rules. Farage defended himself by saying it was an essential broadcast on behalf of LBC Radio. Somehow, Farage seems to think he enjoys ‘key worker’ status to deliver duplicitous conspiracy theories.

This latest assault only serves as yet another meaningless rant to add to his unwavering saga of anti-migrant hostility

Disagreeing with the law is one thing, but Nigel Farage’s so-called “broadcast” is flatly laden with misinformation and hearsay. Either Farage is ignorant himself to the Geneva Convention, or he is preying on the public’s lack of knowledge in a deliberately disingenuous bid to whip up unwarranted hatred towards refugees.

In other words, Farage’s claims are out of step with factual reality. This latest assault only serves as yet another meaningless rant to add to his unwavering saga of anti-migrant hostility.

Written by
Olivia Bridge
Join the discussion