Labour MP Clive Lewis sparks backlash after he compares housing migrants at a Pontins holiday park to a ‘concentration camp’
- Clive Lewis compares housing migrants at Pontins park to ‘concentration camp’
- Labour MP sparks a backlash with his ‘inflammatory’ and ‘appalling’ comments
- It comes on same day that four people die in latest tragedy in English Channel
Labour’s Clive Lewis has sparked a backlash after he compared housing migrants at a Pontins holiday park to a ‘concentration camp’.
The Norwich South MP was accused of using ‘inflammatory language’ as he tore into the Tories’ record on handling asylum claims.
Mr Lewis made the ‘appalling’ comparison shortly before it was confirmed that four people had died after a migrant boat capsized in the English Channel.
The latest tragedy in the small boats crisis occurred a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled a five-point strategy to stem the crossings.
His plans include using disused holiday parks, former student halls, and surplus military sites to end asylum seekers being housed in hotels, at a £5.5million daily cost to taxpayers.
Mr Lewis, a former shadow minister under Jeremy Corbyn, today seized on reports that Pontins holiday parks could be among the sites used to attack Mr Sunak’s proposals.
He told the BBC’s Politics Live programme: ‘Let’s be really clear here, my understanding is, if you put a group of people concentrated into a camp – as you did in South Africa in the Boer War – that’s what you call a concentration camp.’
‘Look what they’re talking about, putting people in camps en masse because of their mess.
‘Let’s just be really clear where we are, that is the technical term.’
Labour’s Clive Lewis sparked a backlash after he compared housing migrants at a Pontins holiday park to a ‘concentration camp’
Ex-Cabinet minister Damian Green, who also appeared on the BBC programme, told MailOnline: ‘On a sombre day this kind of inflammatory language is especially inappropriate.’
It has been reported that Pontins holiday parks, including one at Camber Sands in East Sussex, could be used to house asylum seekers
Mr Lewis made the ‘appalling’ comparison shortly before it was confirmed that four people had died after a migrant boat capsized in the English Channel
Challenged about his remarks, Mr Lewis admitted that ‘language is important’ when discussing the Channel migrants crisis.
But he doubled down on his criticism of the Government and suggested Mr Sunak’s renewed focus on the asylum system was ‘for political benefit’ and as ‘distractionism’ from the cost-of-living crisis and NHS backlogs.
‘Language is important but so is motivation and what this Government is doing,’ Mr Lewis added.
‘This has been on their watch and they are doing this and, do you know what, those people that died in that boat are not responsible for the NHS waiting lists.
‘Those people that died in that boat are not responsible for poverty pay, for food banks.
‘And look at this Government, after 12 years, they’re stood here going “oh look – a crisis, don’t look at the NHS, look at these people coming in here”.
‘It’s the oldest trick in the book, we should be sick of tired of it.’
Former Cabinet minister Damian Green, who was also appearing on the programme, told Mr Lewis: ‘Every bit of that is nonsense’.
And, speaking after the programme ended, Mr Green went further in his criticism of Mr Lewis’s remarks.
He told MailOnline: ‘I think on a sombre day this kind of inflammatory language is especially inappropriate.’
Fellow Tory backbencher Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet on the Kent coast, also joined the backlash and said it was an ‘appalling similarity to make’.
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