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Tory minister says refugee charities are fuelling the human trafficking trade

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The MP is no stranger to controversy

Refugee charities supporting migrants at Calais, France, are “just as bad as people smugglers”, the new Conservative party deputy chairman said.

Lee Anderson said charities based on the French coast were acting as “enablers” helping them to get to the UK in often unsafe boats and claimed the charities are part of the illegal trade in refugees coming to Britain.

The MP for Ashfield said: “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 multi-million pound industry.”

Anderson also said migrants arriving "unlawfully" in Britain should be returned the “same day” to where they came from.

“I’d put them on a Royal Navy frigate or whatever and sail it to Calais,” he said.

However a spokesperson for one of the leading charities on the French coast, Care4Calais, refuted his claims.

The volunteer-run charity distributes aid to refugees sleeping rough in and around Calais – many of whom have fled war, persecution and political oppression, according to its website.

“Our operations in Calais and 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, simple teas and coffees,” they said.

“We provide no assistance – or encouragement – to refugees in Calais and Northern France with journeys to the UK. We do not want any individual to attempt to cross the Channel in a small boat, or attempt dangerous journeys by other means (lorries, trains, etc.) as these journeys are life-threatening.

“The men to whom the MP refers were from Sudan, a country that has been riven by war and conflict and therefore there are a large number of displaced people, a small number of whom reach Calais. Currently, 87% of asylum applications made by people from Sudan are being accepted by the British government.”

Anderson is known for his controversial views and has called for the death penalty to be reintroduced because “no one has committed a crime after being executed.”

“Go and speak to the 50% of the people in this country who actually agree with me. It’s not some fringe or lunatic opinion – it’s the majority of people. I’m not being radical here,” he said.