Comments by Labour councillor calling for volunteer group to deal with migrant channel crossings spark outrage

In a deleted series of tweets he called for a voluntary 'Home Guard'

A Labour councillor is under fire after comments calling for a voluntary ‘home guard’ in response to Channel migrant crossing resurfaced online. In screenshots of now-deleted tweets, Ashford Labour Brendan Chilton, made a series of controversial statements on immigration, Black Lives Matter and defending the Iraq War.

Bemoaning the government as ‘not having a clue’ on migration, Chilton wrote: “Perhaps we need some sort of ‘Home Guard’ -voluntary- to support the coast guard, police, border force etc?”

The comments echoed uncomfortably of the rhetoric of the far-right, who have already taken upon themselves to act as a vigilante border force on the channel, often using boats. One user responded: “Great to see Labour leaders openly asking for people to join something the far right also wants to provide in these areas”

Chilton also made several comments against BLM, calling for the police to take action against the protests. He also shared a tweet by professional contrarian Darren Grimes comparing BLM taking down statues to ISIS.

The councillor, who campaigned for Brexit including penning several columns on the Spiked website, also made several comments calling for Labour to get tougher on immigration controls. 

He wrote: “Let’s be frank. Labour must get a grip on immigration. Middle & working class share desire for control & reductions. Time is running out.”

When reached for comment, Chilton told LFF he offered the idea for the ‘voluntary border group’ as a response to ‘overstretched’ and ‘underfunded’ border forces. He said that he deleted the tweet because of online ‘outrage’ but denied being anti-refugee, saying he had been an ‘antifascist campaigner’ his whole life.

“I admit the use of the phrase Home Guard was not the best way to describe it- but the substance is to support our public services,” wrote Chilton.

The volunteers would inform the border force of crossings and provide the ‘extremely vulnerable’ arrivals with first aid, food and translation services among other things, said Chilton.

“A practical, caring and supporting group. The voluntary border force would act in a similar way to existing voluntary efforts and would build on the spirit of voluntarism that exists in this country. 

“It’s one of the things that makes this country so compassionate. It would not be organised in a way where anybody could just rock up and join in- people would need to be vetted properly, CRB checks, character checks etc in the same way people who volunteer for schools, the NHS, or clubs are checked,” he continued.

“In terms of BLM I disagree with the tactics of BLM. I don’t believe we will achieve racial equality by tearing down statues and erasing our past. 

“We need to be fully aware of our past and explain both the good and the bad. I have some concerns about the association of the phrase/campaign #DefundthePolice which I totally oppose. You cannot have a decent well ordered society if you do not have law enforcement,” he added.

Sophia Dourou is a freelance journalist

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