Ukip MEP spreads lies about refugees on BBC Question Time

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


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.


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

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