Lee Anderson tonight warned the Tories risk losing the next general election if they do not get a grip on Channel migrant crossings. The new Conservative deputy chairman said he sees stopping small boats as the “number one priority”.
The outspoken MP for Ashfield was grilled on whether the Tories will be “toast” if they don’t get a handle on the issue during an appearance on Nigel Farage’s GB News show.
Mr Anderson said: “Well we’re going to have some problems at the next election I think we know that.
“For me stopping the boats is the number one priority.
“Yes we’ve got to fix the economy, yes we’ve got to bring inflation down. But the small boats are millions and millions of pounds a day, we recognize that.
“I’ve been banging on about that for three years in that place over there. They’ve called me a fascist, they’ve called me a Nazi, they’ve called me a racist.
“I’m not, I love my country and when I go to bed at night I want to sleep tight in the knowledge that our borders are secure.”
Mr Anderson’s comments come after he said that Calais refugee charities are “just as bad as people smugglers”.
He accused the northern France-based organizations of “fuelling” migrants’ desire to cross the English Channel in rubber dinghies.
He told The Telegraph: “You’ve got the people smugglers, you’ve got the camps, the charities at the camps.
“You’ve then got, when you get to England, the hotels, the lefty lawyers – it is one big multimillion-pound industry.”
Mr Anderson claimed that on a recent trip to Calais with the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, he saw “hundreds of young men” being helped by workers at the British Care4Calais charity, according to the newspaper.
He said the migrants were “encouraged” to make the dangerous crossing by being taught English by the volunteers.
Mr Anderson added: “They weren’t fleeing any war, or persecution, they told us that they wanted to come for a better life in the UK.”
In response, Care4Calais said: “Our operations in Northern France focus on the provision of humanitarian aid and we seek to provide some friendship and dignity through activities like English lessons, football matches, and simple teas and coffees.
“We provide no assistance – or encouragement – to refugees with journeys to the UK. We do not want any individual to attempt to cross the Channel in a small boat, or by other dangerous means.
“We see the real-life consequences of people smuggling; that is why we campaign for safe routes for people who want to seek asylum in the UK.”
In an interview shortly before being made Tory deputy chairman earlier this month, Mr Anderson said migrants arriving illegally in Britain should be returned the “same day” to where they came from.
He told the Spectator: “I’d put them on a Royal Navy frigate or whatever and sail it to Calais.”
A record 45,756 people made the dangerous journey across busy shipping lanes from France last year.
Rishi Sunak made tackling the issue one of his top five pledges in a new year speech.