Banksy hits back after Glastonbury artwork branded 'vile' by Tory minister

The inflatable life raft holding dummy migrants appeared during Idles' Friday night performance
-Credit: (Image: Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)

Banksy has hit back after a Conservative minister claimed his inflatable migrant boat artwork at Glastonbury was ‘vile’.

The anonymous street artist has become renowned for his striking political artwork. They are usually in the form of street art but he has explored other forms too, such as the Dismaland theme park which commented on the state of English coastal towns.

During Idles’ set at Glastonbury on Friday night, an inflatable life raft holding dummy migrants was carried across the crowd. This was in reference to the small boats of migrants travelling across the English channel. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made ‘stopping the boats’ and tackling the illegal border crossings a key pledge.

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It was passed around by festival goers during the song Danny Nedelko, the lyrics of which began with: “My blood brother is an immigrant. A beautiful immigrant”.

The stunt drew criticism from Home Secretary James Cleverly, who said: “There are a bunch of people there joking and celebrating about criminal actions which costs lives, people die. People die in the Mediterranean, they die in the Channel. This is not funny. It is vile. It is a celebration of the loss of life in the Channel.”

Asked if the boat could have been a commentary on the Conservatives’ failure to stop the boats, he said: “Our ability to sort that problem out has been hampered at every stage by the Labour party who aspire to border control.”

He added: “They know that had they supported us, they voted over 130 times to prevent us taking greater control of our borders, the hypocrisy of the left on this issue is breath-taking and to joke about it, to celebrate it at a pop festival when there have been children dying in the Channel is completely unacceptable.”

Banksy has now hit back at this criticism. In a message posted on his Instagram account today, the artist said: “The Home Secretary called my Glastonbury boat ‘vile and unacceptable’ which seemed a bit over the top.

“The real boat I fund, the MV Louise Michel, rescued 17 unaccompanied children from the central Mediterranean on Monday night. As punishment the Italian authorities have detained it - which seems vile and unacceptable to me.”

The MV Louise Michel has been running since March 2020. It has previously been detained by the Italian authorities as part of efforts to reduce the number of crossings in the Mediterranean.

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