Ukip MEP spreads lies about refugees on BBC Question Time

Yet again Ukip shows its contempt for truth - and the British public

Richard Helmer MEP, Ukip


Speaking on last night’s BBC Question Time, when asked how to tell ‘genuine refugees from economic migrants’, Richard Helmer, Ukip MEP for the East Midlands, said it was ‘almost impossible’ – before claiming the opposite:

“At the beginning of this process, everybody said, ‘of course they are refugees, of course they must be let in’, including Angela Merkel who made some very foolish statements.

More recently there have been proper studies done of people coming through, and it is clear that genuine refugees are a small proportion, and perhaps 70 or 75 per cent are actually economic migrants.

Helmer didn’t say which ‘proper studies’ he was citing, but what he said directly contradicts the facts.

The United Nations reports that 62 per cent of those arriving in Europe this year up to July were from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan.

Frontex, Europe’s border agency, reported on October 10 that of the 49,000 people arriving in the Greek Islands in September:

Syrian refugees remained the dominant nationality among the arriving migrants.”

Greece is where the majority of people reach Europe.

Of the 12,000 who arrived in Italy last month, ‘Eritreans were the most numerous‘.

The United Nations Refugee Agency said of those arriving in Europe by sea this year, 83 per cent are from the world’s top ten refugee producing countries.

More than half (54 per cent) were from Syria alone.

Let’s zoom in on Syria for a moment: 

When Syrians in Germany, almost all of whom arrived this year, were recently polled:

86 per cent said they feared kidnap and arrest in Syria.

88 per cent said their area of Syria had been shelled, (i.e. bombed)

92 per cent said armed fighting was a threat to their safety.

82 per cent said they had been living under siege and/or without food.

Any of the above would make them refugees and likely to be granted asylum.

Polling for Eritreans and Afghans fleeing their own war-torn countries would yield similar results.

So how can this be squared with the claims of Ukip’s MEP?

What he said is not only belied by all the evidence above – it contradicts the interviews and research carried out by thousands of journalists, aid workers and government officials across the continent and beyond.

Yet there was Ukip’s MEP on the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, telling the nation without citation that ‘genuine refugees are a small proportion, and perhaps 70 or 75 per cent are actually economic migrants’.

Data of this kind is never 100 per cent accurate. But by all the available evidence – and until he names his source – Helmer’s claims look to be 100 per cent wrong.

Once again, Ukip prove they have contempt for truth and demonstrate a willingness to mislead the British public.


Like this article? Support our work: donate here.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Sign up for our weekly email by clicking here.

83 Responses to “Ukip MEP spreads lies about refugees on BBC Question Time”

  1. Ryan Waters

    Yes really. Scepticism is healthy, not crazy. I challenge you to summarise 5 key pieces of data which “pretty much” support this.

  2. jj

    Its not that they don’t ‘want’ to, its simply because we are furthest away, they would love to come here and enjoy the perks of life in Britain, its just that they have to cross another body of water to get here. When faced with the option of Germany, which doesn’t seem to care about the sustainability of 10,000 a day, then you realise Germany is the easiest to get to.

  3. Cole

    You probably believe the Mail and Express. LOL.

  4. Cole

    Who knows? But it rather undermines the arguments of those who say they want to come here to scrounge off our too generous government. And frankly, I can’t blame them for preferring Germany, a more successful and welcoming country anyway.

  5. Cole

    I actually can’t be arsed to waste my time on arguing with flat earthers any more. It’s too ridiculous. It’s just like the people who used to claim that smoking wasn’t bad for your health.

  6. jj

    Welcoming when there are smaller numbers, large rushes of people to a single place is actually turning the german people away from being very welcoming.

  7. Harold

    Sorry I am not sure I understand your reply, but to be clear I was not advocating involvement in Syria, I hope if Cameron puts it to Parliament it is voted down, I expect to see Cardwell vote against, if he does not I would look for some correction here.

  8. Michaelinlondon1234

    Point noted. Thanks.

  9. Cole

    No doubt there are some people in Germany who don’t like it – mostly UKIP types and the far right.

    But can you imagine the outcry if similar numbers came to the UK? The right wing press froth at the mouth about a couple of thousand refugees milling around in Calais.

  10. jj

    Yes, mainly because they keep ‘invading’ the tracks, getting into the back of lorries, causing lorry drivers to throw away perishable goods and generally causing mild havoc in a key crossing, proving t be a security risk as well as resulting in many cancellations for euro tunnel services, so no, they are not ‘milling around’. I once was on a coach, crossed the tunnel and stopped at a service station in Berkshire, three lads got out rom the bottom of the bus, they could be anybody… why just pretend these people are all perfectly fine and don’t pose a potential risk. Not saying panic, but at least take steps to prevent.

  11. Woo11

    We need to stop the wars creating these refugees, its a total humanitarian outrage. As has been said by numerous Syrian refugees, who tried to stick it out in their country through all these years of war, they would rather be there at home, not stuck in some God awful refugee camp in Jordan or having to make a perilous journey to Europe, and in some cases all the ignorant abuse they get like some of the comments below. Its not been called the biggest humanitarian crisis and movement of people since the WWII for nothing.

  12. Mick of Orpington

    Colure has nothing to do with ‘race’ see 2015 – 008 Racism Who Originated the Term “Racist” And Why?

  13. Mick of Orpington

    Cole see 2012 – 015 The Great Global Warming Fraud invented by the Club of Rome and comment.

  14. Mick of Orpington

    For the Warmists. Please see 2012 – 015 The Great Global Warming Fraud invented by the Club of Rome and indicate anything in it that is incorrect.

  15. Susan hughes

    Its not about lies its just that the truth hurts the UKIP haters , well done Roger for speaking the truth !

  16. Blazeaway

    Mr Helmer is quite right.
    Perhaps Left Foot Forward may want to talk to the soon-to-be redundant steelworkers across the country. The Climate Change Act, supported by all but five Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and SNP MPs, has made energy so expensive that it is costing jobs.
    Then it becomes clear that the EU – supported by Con, Lab, Lib Dem and SNP – will forbid state aid to save jobs.
    The steelworkers, once on the dole, will find they have to compete for jobs with an artificially enlarged labour force – most of whom are economic immigrants.

  17. Blazeaway

    Not a ‘settled issue’. No issue is ever settled in science.

  18. jimB

    Before you go much further with your assumptions maybe you should listen to this. Patrick Moore co-founder of Greenpeace and the only member of Greenpeace with a PHD in ecology.

  19. jimB

    And look what happened to Giotto, Galileo and newton by the catholic church. All heretics yeah? All dissenters!

  20. jimB

    Do you not take James Lovelock seriously or Freeman Dyson. Do you take logic and evidence seriously. Empiricism! Check out what supporting the doom mongerers / alarmists are doing to this planet.

  21. jimB

    You can’t be arsed to argue with ‘flat earthers’ . How about you look at what people like Freeman Dyson, James Lovelock and countless others have to say about the subject are they all flat earthers too. If you approach this through the lens of science and not through misguided idealism you might just find the truth. Keeping it simple CO2 is plant food. Plants die at about 150ppm optimal growth is about 2000ppm currently we are about 400ppm. This is empirical science something which is observable by experiment in a garden green house.

  22. sayajp

    The Loony Left would love (at mummy and daddy’s expense) to go all over the world in solar powered ships, gathering up people who didn’t have access to the FREE healthcare and ipads they grew up with and bring them all to Britain to live in perfect little eco villages where they could skip around maypoles…when they weren’t trying to mutilate each other for differing religious viewpoints

  23. Wilky1

    They all seem to speak English, not German or French. Once they have EU papers, where exactly do you think they’re going to rock up?
    Is this “hardly any of them seem to wan to come to the UK” like the stock statement “I’m from Aleppo” as shown on the BBC Panorama program? Where they were all throwing their papers into the sea or groups of young men travelling with a young boy with a broken jaw ( implication he was kidnapped & had jaw broken to keep him quiet whilst they used him to get over borders)..

  24. Quattrovalvole

    Not only that, the problem in our steel industry stems from the fact that as members of the EU we cannot balance our trade. The ‘No’ leaflet from 1975 warned of this very thing!

  25. Quattrovalvole

    There is no UKIP lie, he’s quoting EU statistics.

  26. Quattrovalvole

    It would be nice to see Labour and Conservative voters unite and support ANYONE (or spoil ballots) other than the two deceiving mainstream parties.

  27. wattys123

    according to the UN 86% of the migrants are men. Strange isn’t it – all these men leaving their families

  28. Harold

    I agree he is quoting EU statistics but importantly out of context, which may not be a lie I agree, though it would be reasonable to claim it was a distortion or manipulation of the statistics. The problem is when these old conservative voters become UKIP it does not mean they go through some revelation process, I doubt they change or alter one single view or opinion. This is unlike what a Conservative choosing to vote Labour, or a socialist voting Tory has to go through. In both cases this causes some considerable soul searching. Consequently when putting across an argument it is easy to fall into the trap of misleading the audience, which brings me back to my question, which went unanswered, if the rights case is so strong why do they need to manipulate the statistics?

  29. mikehaseler

    Best comment I heard on twitter is this: “I don’t lock my door at night because I hate people outside, but because I love those inside”. But according to some people – merely locking your front door is an act of “racism”.

  30. Susan Chapman

    Perhaps the UN are not unbiased? “The United Nations, in 2000, advocated the “replacement” of Europe’s population by Muslim migrants.” (

  31. Paul Arscott

    argument from authority

  32. Paul Arscott

    Still pushing that shill’s work out as being representative of a scientific process that was identified nearly 150 years ago? Yawn.

  33. Paul Arscott

    Argument from authority, argument from ignorance, bluster. Just all dire.

Leave a Reply