Journalist Andrew Neil has praised the RNLI after the charity publicly thanked its supporters following criticism from Nigel Farage over its approach to rescuing migrants.

Neil said the support the charity had seen after Farage – who has a show on Neil’s channel GB News – accused it of facilitating illegal immigration was “much deserved”, adding: “You are the epitome of courage and self-sacrifice. The very best of British, in fact.”

It comes after people donated more than £200,000 to the charity after chief executive Mark Dowie hit back at Farage, who compared the RNLI to a “taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs”. In another rant on GB News, Farage stood by his suggestion.

Although he claimed that he had “massive admiration” for the RNLI, he added that the French and British authorities are not doing enough to stop migrant boats from attempting to cross the Channel.

But despite Farage sharing these views on GB News, channel founder Neil appeared to not share his stance and expressed support for the charity.

Reacting to his words, some questioned why Neil had given Farage to talk about the RNLI:

Another referred to the channel suspending broadcaster Guto Harri for taking the knee as a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. They questioned if Farage would similarly be suspended:

While RNLI received some criticism from those who agreed with Farage, it was broadly inundated with support.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab praised the charity’s work, saying they “do an incredible job, they have got this great heart and soul to them”.

He added: “I think they operate within the legal rules and that is part of this country. We are a big-hearted country.

“At the same time, if we are talking about the wider small boats issue, that is something where, absolutely at the same time, we need to come down as hard as is humanly possible, working with our French partners,” he said.

The health secretary Sajid Javid tweeted that he had made a donation and wanted to thank the charity “for all that you do”.

And other politicians expressed their support:

Thanking their supporters, the charity had said:

They added: “We simply wanted to tell our volunteer crews’ story and make it clear that our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save every one. Without the generosity of our supporters, we could not save lives at sea. Every one of you is a lifesaver.”

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