Jeremy Corbyn: Pushing back refugees leads to their deaths - stop the blame game

24 November 2021, 20:48

Jeremy Corbyn speaks to Iain Dale after migrants die trying to cross Channel
Jeremy Corbyn speaks to Iain Dale after migrants die trying to cross Channel. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Megan Hinton

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told LBC the Government needs to stop "playing the blame game" with France after 31 migrants died in the English channel.

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His comments come after the migrants, including a young girl and five women, drowned when their boat heading for the UK capsized in the Channel near Calais.

Speaking to Iain Dale on Wednesday evening, Mr Corbyn said: "We are in a situation where there are more refugees in the world than there are at any point in time in recorded history.

"Surely that’s a time to come together.

"To try and understand why there are so many refugees and then try and have some system which can ensure they are able to survive, to live to contribute to society.

"And not get involved in a blame game or indeed a system of trying to push back refugees which ends up in their deaths."

Read more: Young girl and five women among 31 migrants who drowned crossing English Channel

Read more: PM: We must break migrant gangs who are 'literally getting away with murder'

French politician Franck Dhersin said on Twitter that the boat had more than 50 people aboard.

Four people have been arrested in connection with a migrant boat which sank in the English Channel, the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said.

He criticised the "criminal nature of the smugglers" who organise the crossings.

In a press conference he confirmed that 1,500 people have been arrested since the start of January, with four arrests being made today.

He added: "We suspect that they were directly linked to this particular crossing".

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French prime minister Jean Castex said the shipwreck on Wednesday was a "tragedy" and his thoughts were with "victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and injury".

While Boris Johnson said he is "shocked, appalled and deeply saddened" about the deaths and was due to chair an emergency Cobra meeting on Wednesday evening in response.

He added: "Now is the time for us all to step up… to do everything we can to break these gangs who are literally getting away with murder."

Fees for a spot in a dinghy headed for Britain can vary wildly, with reports ranging from 3,500 to 6,000 euros.

One focus in the UK and abroad has been on disrupting the supply of dinghies and other vessels that could be used in unsafe Channel crossings.

The sale of dinghies in French towns has reportedly been banned, with kayaks seen withdrawn from sale at a Calais store.

However one alleged smuggling gang targeted by police last year was thought to have been buying inflatable boats and engines from as far away as Germany and the Netherlands.