BBC under fire as Nigel Farage claims 'floods' of Albanians are entering Britain

Nigel Farage arrives at Dover, Kent, where people thought to be migrants have previously been brought ashore by Border Force officers following a number of small boat incidents in the Channel.
Nigel Farage described migrants crossing the Channel in small boats as a "flood". (PA)

The BBC has been criticised after former Ukip leader Nigel Farage claimed there was a "flood" of Albanian men coming to Britain, bringing the immigration system to "breaking point".

Speaking to Sarah Montague on Radio 4's World at One about migrants crossing the Channel to enter Britain, Farage claimed the "majority" were Albanian men "coming to join criminal gangs", that "hotels are full all over the country" with migrants, and that "anybody that enters the United Kingdom via these means should not be granted refugee status".

The issue of Britain's asylum system has come under sharp focus in recent days amid growing concern over the conditions in which migrants are being held while waiting to be processed once they arrive in the UK.

Around 4,000 people are being kept at the Manston facility in Kent, a former airbase that should only have capacity for 1,600 people.

On Sunday, a man launched two or three petrol bombs at a migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent, before driving to a nearby petrol station and taking his own life.

Police say the incident is not being treated as terror related.

Invited onto the Radio 4 programme, some of Farage's more controversial comments included advising that authorities should "use the longest runway in the country to fly every single person who comes from Albania straight back there", and saying the government needs to "stop the flood" of migrants heading to UK shores.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard the Ramsgate Lifeboat following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: Thursday October 27, 2022. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Farage criticised the "sheer numbers" of migrants being granted refuge in the UK (Getty)

Referring to legal migration, Farage said that 1.2 million legal visas were granted last year, then asked: "Is it any wonder we can't get GP appointments, the roads are full, you can't get your kids into local schools?"

As Farage's appearance aired, the BBC was slammed for "indulging" his views.

Barrister and former MP Anna Soubry wrote on Twitter: "He told lies about migration. His false assertions were not challenged nor countered.

Watch: Flammable devices hurled at migrant centre in Dover

"The BBC has a long history of allowing Farage to prey on fears & prejudices unchallenged It’s disgraceful they continue to indulge him."

Labour MP for East Leeds Richard Burgeon said: "What a terrible decision by the BBC to interview Nigel Farage over the Manston migrant centre.

"What the hell does he have to offer in this debate?

Farage faced backlash after his appearance on Radio 4's lunchtime show (Neil Coyle/Twitter)
Farage faced backlash after his appearance on Radio 4's lunchtime show (Neil Coyle/Twitter)

"This is the time for a serious discussion on the impact of the Tory’s cruel immigration policies. Not more myths and scapegoating."

Farage said that people arriving in Dover were not in need of support, but hoping to join criminal gangs.

He claimed very few were seeking asylum.

"The majority of those coming are coming from Albania," he said. "Let's remind ourselves that this is a NATO country. An EU applicant. A holiday destination for a huge number of British people."

He said there was no "legitimate" reason for anyone from Albania to seek refuge in the UK.

But Rachel Youngman, chair of charity Hibiscus which supports migrant women, told Yahoo News UK that Farage's comments were misleading and inaccurate.

"Farage's comments are a gross oversimplification of people who arrive in Dover seeking asylum," she said.

EDITORS NOTE Children's faces have been pixelated as the PA Picture Desk has been unable to gain the necessary permission to photograph a child under 16 on issues involving their welfare. A young boy amongst a group of people thought to be migrants, is driven away by bus from the Border Force compound in Dover, Kent, after being brought from a Border Force vessel yesterday following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: Thursday October 13, 2022. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
A young boy was amongst a group of people thought to be migrants brought in by a Border Force boat. Farage claimed the majority of migrants were adult men from Albania (Getty).

"They are not illegal migrants because their right to seek asylum or return to their home country has not yet been determined.

"Mr Farage is making an assumption that all people on boats are from Albania whereas our understanding is that there are different nationalities including women. We also know from our evidence that women are at high risk of gender based violence and trafficking. Men are also trafficked.

"Yet Mr Farage goes on to assert that they are by virtue of being from Albania, here illegally and from gangs.

"That is without any evidence and the assumption of illegal actions by virtue of a nationality is a very dangerous route to take."

Figures published by the House of Commons Library's statistics specialist on migration and justice, Georgina Sturge, also appear to contradict Farage's claims that most people crossing the Channel in boats are economic migrants.

"93% of the 38,000 small boat arrivals in 2022 so far have applied for asylum (this was 98% in 2021)," she wrote on Twitter. Adding that "4% of 2021 applications have been processed so far & 85% of those resulted in asylum grants".