(Photo: SIPA USA/PA Images)
A minister has distanced himself from Suella Braverman’s “invasion” comments, saying he would never “demonise” people.
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, said he had to choose his words “carefully” in his job.
Last night Braverman was accused of “whipping-up hate” by describing small boats crossing the Channel as an “invasion”.
The under-fire home secretary used a Commons statement on the chaos surrounding the Manston migrant holding centre in Kent to deliver inflammatory comments that were widely condemned. They came a day after another holding centre in Dover was petrol bombed.
Asked if he would characterise the situation in the same way, Jenrick told Sky News: “In a job like mine, you have to choose your words very carefully.
“And I would never demonise people coming to this country in pursuit of a better life. I understand and appreciate our obligation to refugees.
“The scale of the challenge we’re facing is very, very significant.
“Fifty thousand people, and the number could well be significantly higher over the course of this year, is a major challenge for this country.”
Jenrick said reception centres were being “overwhelmed” and that the word “invasion” was a way of describing the “sheer scale of the challenge”.
“That’s what Suella Braverman was trying to express,” he added.
“She was also speaking, I think, and this is an important point, for those people who live on the south coast, who day in, day out are seeing migrant boats landing on their beaches.”
Jenrick was again pressed on the comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and replied: “It is not a phrase that I have used, but I do understand the need to be straightforward with the general public about the challenge that we as ministers face.”
Braverman told MPs on Monday: “Let’s be clear about what is really going on here: the British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not.
“So let’s stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress. The whole country knows that is not true. It’s only the honourable members opposite who pretend otherwise.
“The system is broken. Illegal migration is out of control and too many people are interested in playing political parlour games, covering up the truth than solving the problem.”
The Refugee Council described the home secretary’s comments as “appalling, wrong and dangerous”.
But she won the support of former Ukip and Brexit Party leader Farage, who said on Twitter: “Suella Braverman, who is under attack from Remainers and the globalists, has said what is happening in the Channel is an invasion. It’s a word I’ve been using for two years and been condemned for.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.