Tory MP accused of refusing to correct 'false claim' about migrants

Priti Patel arrives in Rwanda ahead of plans to process asylum seekers ...
Priti Patel

Tory MP Scott Benton has refused to correct his claim that it is mainly "economic migrants" who cross the Channel in small boats after being called out by Full Fact, they claim.

The MP for Blackpool South appeared on Politics Live last month and said that “vast majority of people coming across the Channel are economic migrants”.

He added: “The vast majority are men between the ages of 18 and 40 coming from Iraq and Iran primarily.”

Full Fact is the UK's independent fact checking organisation, and it has said Benton's claim was “false”. They say he has refused to issue a correction.

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“We contacted Scott Benton about this fact check and he told us he will not be issuing a correction,” the organisation posted on Twitter.

“This is not good enough. MPs should back up what they say in public with evidence.”

The Full Fact website says “there is no evidence” for Benton’s claim.

“Research carried out by the Refugee Council shows the majority of nationals from the countries most represented in small boat arrivals are granted asylum,” its verdict reads.

“The Home Office doesn’t publish statistics covering asylum claims following small boat arrivals specifically.”

“While it is true that people from Iran and Iraq, as well as young men, are most represented in the statistics on small boat crossings, there is no evidence most are economic migrants.

"Research shows that the majority of people, irrespective of arrival method, from the top 10 most-represented countries crossing the Channel are granted asylum—indicating that they are not economic migrants—although data on asylum decisions by nationality and method of arrival to the UK is not published by the Home Office.”

A spokesperson for the Refugee Council clarified: “As the vast majority of those making Channel crossings (91 per cent) in that period [January 2020 and June 2021] came from those ten countries, the extrapolation is that those crossing the Channel are more likely to be granted asylum than the average across the whole system.”

Journalist and presenter Matthew Wright quote tweeted the post from Full Fact and called out Benton by writing: “You can do better @ScottBentonMP.”

Rather than comment about the matter, Benton replied: “I always thought that when watching your show Matthew.”

Benton has refused to apologiseTwitter

It comes after the Government announced a new multi-million-pound deal which will see people seeking sanctuary in the UK flown 4,000 miles away to have their asylum claims processed by Rwanda, in what the home secretary branded a “world-leading migration partnership” but others have branded inhumane and expensive.

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