As a UN official blames anti-migrant rhetoric for boat rescue failures in the Med, is he right?

1,500 people have died this year seeking to reach Europe (Source: Getty)

Will Jones, lecturer in politics and member of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, says Yes

Our politicians are fighting to prove who can be most vicious to foreigners. Who can stop them from claiming benefits for longest, or face the tightest admission requirements, or deported fastest. Our government deported a 31 year old engineer because his pregnant wife was not earning enough. Gay rights activists because they didn’t look gay enough. Teresa May pretended a migrant was not deported because he owned a cat, for a cheap line at a conference.

These words matter. They blur crucial distinctions, such as between economic migrants, and the comparatively tiny trickle of refugees who risk their lives to escape appalling circumstances. They lie, as when those with an absolute legal right to claim asylum are branded ‘illegals’. They demonise and dehumanise, like when a diseased mind like Katie Hopkins’ can call migrants "vermin", "a virus", and "cockroaches" in a national newspaper. Worst, they make it harder for our politicians to voice the simple truth that these people are human, and we can help them.

Steven Woolfe MEP, Ukip’s spokesman on migration, says No

Only an out of touch, unelected, over-paid international bureaucrat would say that debating the number one UK voter concern during our country’s democratic election causes deaths of African migrants.

Instead of its members jet-hopping between global conferences to discuss ineffectual supranational solutions, perhaps the UN should understand its own numbers: that people smuggling is a $100bn-plus global industry. Perhaps it could help to strike a deal with warring parties over the governance of Libya – given that the EU bombed the country into instability without thinking of the consequences its southern Mediterranean members would have to face.

None of the four main political parties in Britain are against migration to the UK. Most are against mass migration, but only Ukip has a strategy to return power to the UK Parliament and away from EU and UN commissars.

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