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’s much deserved. You are the epitome of courage and self-sacrifice. The very best of British, in fact. https://t.co/pR6jW90mcz
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.
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:
@afneil Glad that you have a somewhat better attitude than your colleague.
Is he going to be suspended or does he h… https://t.co/868l8M43XL
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:
It is terrible this is controversial. It is brilliant the way it is said. Thank you @RNLI and all your amazing te… https://t.co/z2kxt8MFje
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.”