Prime Minister has defended his decision to describe migrats attempting to reach Britain from Calais as a ‘swarm’
The Prime Minister has insisted that describing those seeking to reach Britain illegally from Calais as a ‘swarm’ does not dehumanise migrants.
David Cameron received international condemnation for his description ofdesperate refugees camped in the Channel port attempting to illegally enter the UK.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the first 100 days of his second term, David Cameron insisted that his language was fair.
He said: “I was explaining that there are a large number of people crossing the Mediterranean, coming from the Middle East, coming to Europe and I was trying to explain that it was a very large number of people.
“I was not intending to dehumanise, I don’t think it does dehumanise people. Look at what Britain’s response has been. We have made sure that we sent the Royal Navy flagship to the Mediterranean which has rescued thousands of people, saved thousands of lives. Britain’s aid budget is helping to stabilise the countries from which these (migrants) have come.
“These people are for very understandable reasons are fleeing, sometimes, persecution. Listeners at home will understand that I was trying to describe the fact that a lot of people are trying to come to Europe from Africa.
“Unlike other European countries, many of whom have not kept their promises on aid spending, Britain has kept her promises and that money is going into the horn of Africa and other countries in Africa to try and help bring them the stability that not so many people try to come.”
Asked if Britain accepts enough refugees, the Prime Minister insisted that the UK is “one of the most generous countries in Europe” but stressed the need for more robust border security.
He said: “But what we can’t do is allow people to break into our country.”
Mr Cameron also reiterated his pledge to stand down after two terms as Prime Minister.
“I stand absolutely by what I said. I think ten years is a good long time to be Prime Minister but I’ve got plenty to get on with. There’s a full manifesto, we’ve got a strong mandate for it and I think 100 days in, people can see that we are delivering the things that we said we would. A tax-free minimum wage, more apprenticeships, capping welfare, making work pay, I think it’s been a strong start.
Mr Cameron to set out how the government will make use the benefits system to help control immigration.
He said: “My argument is let’s control immigration by reducing the draw of welfare and crucially by training our own people here in the United Kingdom so they can do the jobs our economy is creating and thirdly, and even more crucially, let’s make sure work always pays in Britain so that people aren’t sat on welfare, they’re doing the jobs.”
“We’re taking a range of steps right across the piece to control immigration and when it comes to people coming here to work, obviously we ought to be doing more to train our own people to do the jobs that the growth in our economy is throwing up. So over time businesses should be looking at those so-called ‘shortage occupations’, occupations where people have come from overseas to work, and should be saying ‘well we can train more of these engineers’.
“Let’s make sure we’re training nurses here in the United Kingdom. Of course foreign nurses coming in make a massive contribution to our NHS and will continue to do so but we should be better at workforce planning; knowing how many nurses we’re going to need in our NHS and making sure we’re encouraging young people to train for nursing, we’re making available the training places, and that’s what’s happening.
“I’ve always said you can only control immigration if you also control welfare and if there’s also a positive training programme for the jobs that your economy is creating.
The PM rejected the claim by John Longworth, the director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, that Britain would have to drastically alter its relationship with the EU to regain control of the borders.
He has previously suggested that continued membership of the EU and a cap on migrants arriving from outside the bloc has meant that businesses are unable to attract talent from outside Europe while less well qualified EU workers can join the workforce at will.
“Well I don’t accept that. I think that we should change our relationship with the EU and giving ourselves greater control over these issues,” said Mr Cameron.
“I’m not saying people come from Europe to claim unemployment benefit in Britain, it’s not that that’s happening so much as our in-work benefits are incredibly generous and act as an additional draw because you can get something like £8,000 extra on top of your salary coming from Europe to work in Britain, we need to reduce that draw and make our welfare system work better for us and to act as less of a draw for migrants coming in from Europe.
“But we’ve had this circumstances in the last few years where we have created more jobs in Britain than the rest of the EU put together and so it’s not surprising that people have wanted to come.
“We’ve started the renogotiation and I’ve set out what we want to achieve in the manifesto, which is you have to work here for four years before you’re entitled to benefits.”
Mr Cameron also addressed the significant delay to the publication of Sir John Chilcot’s report into the Iraq war. The Chilcott report has been repeatedly delayed as those criticised within it are given the opportunity, along with their legal teams, to prepare responses.
“Well it is immensely frustrating and people listening to this will think, well, why can’t the Prime Minister just order this thing to be published. I can’t, it’s an independent inquiry and it has to be that way. My office has been talking to his office. We have said that if there’s any more resources that are needed we will make them available. I think it’s important that we get hold of a timetable as soon as possible.”