David Cameron slammed for ‘bunch of migrants’ comment

Published: Wednesday 27th January 2016 by The News Editor

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David Cameron has come under fire for referring to a “bunch of migrants” when describing Europe’s refugee crisis.

Former Labour leadership hopeful Yvette Cooper asked the Prime Minister to withdraw his comments, which were made in response to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to the makeshift Calais camp known as the Jungle.

Ms Cooper, who is chairing Labour’s refugee task force, suggested the PM should use “much more statesmanship-like” language on such a “complex and sensitive” issue, particularly given ongoing commemorations of Holocaust victims.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron brushed off criticism of the Government’s tax agreement with Google by claiming Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell do not stand up to anyone.

He added they had “met a bunch of migrants in Calais and said they could all come to Britain”.

Speaking outside the chamber, a senior Labour source said: “The people we saw at Calais and Dunkirk over the weekend were families, kids, babies… to consider those people we saw as a ‘bunch of migrants’ demonstrates an attitude that is entirely unacceptable to a humanitarian crisis on our doorstep.”

Commons Speaker John Bercow ruled Mr Cameron’s comments were not “disorderly” nor “unparliamentary”, adding people will “make their own assessments” of the issue.

Several Labour MPs objected to the comments on Twitter, describing them as “shameful” and the PM as “odious”.

Comedian David Baddiel also expressed concern, writing: “Not the right day #HolocaustMemorialDay for the bunch of migrants thing.”

Raising a point of order in the Commons, Ms Cooper told Mr Bercow: “The House will have heard many tributes made to Holocaust Memorial Day today and the Holocaust Educational Trust campaign doesn’t stand by.

“In that light and in that spirit, don’t you think that it was inappropriate for the Prime Minister to use language referring to the refugee crisis in Europe and talk about ‘a bunch of migrants’?”

Other Labour MPs could be heard saying “disgraceful” as Ms Cooper repeated the PM’s comment.

Ms Cooper went on to the Speaker: “Do you think it’d be appropriate for the House to ask the Prime Minister to withdraw that language, to use much more statesmanship-like language about the need to build a cross-party consensus on such a complex and sensitive issue?”

Mr Bercow replied: “You speak with enormous experience in this House and I respect what you say.

“I completely identify and empathise with your observations about Holocaust Memorial Day, which you and I on other occasions have marked at events together – so I take what you say extremely seriously.

“I do have to say to you and the House that the observation in question was not disorderly, it was not unparliamentary.

“Everybody must take responsibility for the remarks he or she makes in this House and it is very clear that you would not have used that term.

“It is open to the Prime Minister to comment on it if he wishes but I am not entitled to try to oblige him to say anything on the matter.

“But you have made your point very clearly and it’s on the record and people will make their own assessments of this matter.”

Published: Wednesday 27th January 2016 by The News Editor

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