‘Sickening’: Reform UK deputy leader says UK should let people drown in the Channel

‘This should end Ben Habib's career. It won't. But in any rational universe it would’

Reform UK's Ben Habib

Deputy leader of Reform UK has suggested that migrants should be left to drown in the Channel by the UK in a shocking exchange that has caused widespread outrage. 

Ben Habib made the disturbing comments in an interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk TV when asked how his right-wing party would handle migrants coming to England on small boats. 

This Tuesday four people including a child tragically died attempting to make the journey across the Channel in the hope of reaching safety in the UK. In Reform’s manifesto the party says it would ‘pick up migrants out of boats and take back to France’.

During the interview, Habib advocated for the Navy or Border Force to use “force” to intercept the dinghies and make them turn around, however added that if people scuppered their boats and refused new dinghies they should “suffer the consequences”.

He told the presenter: “I said that we could, as an idea, provide them with another dinghy into which to climb and then go back to France. And if they choose to scupper that dinghy, then yes, they have to suffer the consequences of their actions.”

“Then you would leave them to drown?”, asked Hartley-Brewer. 

Habib replied: “Absolutely, they cannot be infantilised to the point that we become a hostage to fortune.”

The presenter said it was not a policy “that a civilised country should endorse” but Habib continued to stand by his argument endorsing the drowning of people in the Channel. 

“You can have any number of options to deal with the problem. What you don’t do is give in to the blackmail effectively of, we are here, we’re going to self-harm ourselves unless you take us to British shores. You don’t give in to that.”

X user Edwin Hayward described the exchange as “sickening” and said, “this should end Ben Habib’s career. It won’t. But in any rational universe it would.”

Journalist Peter Jukes said: “When Katy Hopkins said the same thing about shooting refugees out of the water, she was sacked from her column at the Sun.

“Politics has so degraded by the point six years on, it can be the policy of a party and one of its leaders. That’s how far we’ve sunk.”

One human rights lawyer on X noted: “In French law failure to assist a person in danger is a criminal offence for which you can be sentenced to up to 5 years of imprisonment & €75,000 fine, plus the removal for 5 years of certain civil & family rights, including the right to vote & stand as a candidate for election.”

Another X user commented: “When you’re so evil you even appal JHB.”

His dehumanising comments reflect a disturbing politics of cruelty that seems to have become accepted, with Reform UK currently polling as the third most popular party in Great Britain.

(Image credit: Talk TV / YouTube screenshot)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

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