Ministers have today slammed outspoken ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s after its chilly criticism of Priti Patel’s handling of the spiralling migrant crisis.
The American company’s UK branch noisily slammed the Home Secretary’s call for the Navy to halt the stream of migrants crossing the Channel.
Sources close to Ms Patel branded Ben & Jerry’s ‘overpriced junk food’ after the company’s UK Twitter account criticised the UK government’s ‘lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture’.
Social media users hit out at Ben & Jerry’s as they accused the company, founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and acquired by Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever in 2000 for more than $2.5billion, of ‘posing’ and ‘virtue signalling’.
Government ministers have joined the angry pile-on, with James Cleverly MP tweeting: ‘Can I have a large scoop of statistically inaccurate virtue signalling with my grossly overpriced ice cream please’.
Immigration minister Chris Philp told the ice cream maker to ‘stick to ice cream’, adding: ‘They’re ‘fleeing’ France, which is safe, civilised & has a good asylum system.
‘Last year the UK made 20,000 asylum grants. We are the only G7 country to meet the 0.7% aid target & have run the largest refugee resettlement scheme in Europe over the last 5 years. Stick to ice cream.’
Ben Bradley MP also told the ice-cream maker to keep its nose out of politics, crowing: ‘You’re here for ice cream… not moral judgements, thank you very much!’
Ministers have today slammed outspoken ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s after its chilly criticism of Priti Patel’s handling of the spiralling migrant crisis
Sources close to Ms Patel branded Ben & Jerry’s ‘overpriced junk food’ after Ben & Jerry’s UK Twitter account criticised the government’s ‘lack of humanity ‘ for refugees (pictured, a boat full of men is seen on the last leg of their journey from France to England yesterday)
Tories have joined the angry pile-on, with James Cleverly MP tweeting: ‘Can I have a large scoop of statistically inaccurate virtue signalling with my grossly overpriced ice cream please’. Ben Bradley MP also told the ice-cream maker to keep its nose out of politics, crowing: ‘You’re here for ice cream… not moral judgements, thank you very much!’
TalkRadio broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer said: ‘Hey @benandjerrys your opinions on ice cream flavours are welcome but I’m not sure virtue signalling about border controls is really your area of expertise. Get back to freezing cream and leave the woke politics to someone else…’ Andrew Neil criticised Ben & Jerry’s alleged hypocrisy: ‘You’re now wholly owned by a massive global conglomerate called Unilever. Perhaps if it paid the taxes HMRC thinks you should pay we could afford to accommodate many more asylum seekers’
Speaking to reporters in Dover, Nigel Farage said: ‘With all the tough talk and with it happening every day it’s becoming a bit of a national humiliation;
‘Until people know that coming via this route they will not be allowed to stay, they will just keep on coming.’
The former Brexit Party leader also defended the use of the word ‘invasion’ to describe the migrants arriving in the UK by sea.
‘I said in April I thought there would be a summer invasion, by which I meant a very large number of people illegally landing on our beaches now,’ he said.
‘As it is, some land on beaches but most get picked up before. I think it’s a pretty reasonable use of the word, yes.’
The backlash mounted after Twitter accounts shared articles explaining how hippy Ben & Jerry’s came under pressure in 2017 to ensure dairy farms supplying it with milk in Vermont provided humane conditions for their migrant workers.
A survey by Migrant Justice, the farmworkers’ advocacy group that lobbied Ben & Jerry’s, found that workers in Vermont’s dairy industry had been labouring under their own grim circumstances had few days off, did not sleep properly, and also had substandard housing, the New York Times reported.
Ben & Jerry’s signed an agreement with the group that October to establish labour standards for the company’s suppliers in the state, giving dairy workers in their supply chain a full day off each week, Vermont minimum wage, eight hours between shifts, and a guarantee that housing will include a real bed, electricity and clean running water.
Then chief executive Jostein Solheim said at the time: ‘We love to be part of innovation. We believe in worker-led movements, and in bringing in dairy and doing it in Vermont.’
Tweeting today, TalkRadio broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer said: ‘Hey @benandjerrys your opinions on ice cream flavours are welcome but I’m not sure virtue signalling about border controls is really your area of expertise.
‘Get back to freezing cream and leave the woke politics to someone else…’
Meanwhile veteran journalist Andrew Neil criticised Ben & Jerry’s alleged hypocrisy: ‘You’re now wholly owned by a massive global conglomerate called Unilever.
‘Perhaps if it paid the taxes HMRC thinks you should pay we could afford to accommodate many more asylum seekers.’
Ben & Jerry’s has long sought to bake its social mission to the brand, with former chairman Jeff Furman describing the company as a ‘social justice organisation that sells ice cream to be able to fuel its advocacy work’.
It has latched onto the Black Lives Matter protests which have swept across the US and Britain, saying in a statement released after the death of George Floyd: ‘George Floyd was a son, a brother, a father, and a friend.
‘The police officer who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck and the police officers who stood by and watched didn’t just murder George Floyd, they stole him.
‘They stole him from his family and his friends, his church and his community, and from his own future.
‘The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy. What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning.
‘What happened… in Minneapolis is the fruit borne of toxic seeds planted on the shores of our country in Jamestown in 1619, when the first enslaved men and women arrived on this continent.
‘Floyd is the latest in a long list of names that stretches back to that time and that shore. Some of those names we know – Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. – most we don’t.’
The ice cream company had affirmed its support of the BLM movement in 2016 and has posted articles including one detailing its support of reparations for black Americans, one explaining systemic racism, and another supporting front end criminal justice reform.
Ben & Jerry’s head of US activism Jabari Paul said that the company tries to turn ‘our fans who may come to our platforms because they’re only interested in ice cream, into activists, by trying to move them up the ladder of engagement’.
Paul told Raconteur in July: ‘When we engage, we’re always driving them towards some sort of call to action, whether that’s to reach out to a local legislator, or it might be to watch a film or read a book.
‘[Consumers] do have a role to play in terms of getting involved in doing something where they can be part of a solution.’
The spat with Priti Patel began after Ben & Jerry’s UK Twitter account suggested that ministers should make it easier for refugees to reach Britain.
It tweeted: ‘People wouldn’t make dangerous journeys if they had any other choice The UK hasn’t resettled any refugees since March, but wars and violence continue. What we need is more safe and legal routes.’
In a Twitter thread, Ben & Jerry’s UK said that ”stronger’ borders aren’t the answer’ and that ‘people cannot be illegal’
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield at the global announcement of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream going 100 per cent Fairtrade on February 18, 2010, in London
Ben & Jerry’s claimed ‘people cannot be illegal’ and pointed out the 1951 Refugee Convention states entering a country illegally should not affect claims for asylum.
The string of tweets ended with: ‘Let’s remember we’re all human and have the same rights to life regardless of the country we happen to have been born in. And once more for the back: people cannot be illegal.’
A source close to Ms Patel said: ‘Priti is working day and night to bring an end to these small boat crossings, which are facilitated by international criminal gangs and are rightly of serious concern to the British people.
‘If that means upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food then so be it.’
Ms Patel has also asked officials to look into whether the Royal Navy could be used to turn back ships and has begun conversations with France on cutting the number of crossings, which Ms Patel has described as ‘unacceptable’.
However, critics say her proposals could be illegal.
There is also an expectation in maritime law that a captain of a ship will help any other vessel that is in danger, which covers many of the small boats carrying migrants in the Channel.
Thumbs-up: Migrants arrive in Dover after crossing the Channel yesterday
The row came as Ms Patel vowed to take tougher action on migrants crossing the Channel
Migrants crossing English Channel warn they will jump overboard and attempt to DROWN if their boats are stopped as French politicians say they want UK benefits and black market jobs – and crisis is Britain’s fault
- Migrants attempting to cross the Channel have threatened to drown themselves
- Families preparing to make the crossing to Britain from refugee camps in Calais
- They claim the stretch of water will become ‘a sea of bodies’ if stopped by Navy
- French officials blame UK’s ‘hypocrisy’ for increasing the number of migrants
By Amie Gordon and Henry Martin for MailOnline
Migrants attempting to cross the Channel have threatened to drown themselves if they are stopped by the Royal Navy.
Families preparing to make the crossing to Britain from Calais claim the stretch of water will become ‘a sea of bodies’ if the British government intervenes and sends them back to France.
Father Kamal Sadeghi, who is getting set to make the perilous journey with his wife and nine-month-old daughter, told The Times: ‘I am too tired to carry on. If they try to stop us I will drown myself.’
This comes as French officials have blamed the UK’s ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘black economy’ for increasing the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.
Britain’s immediate entitlement to benefits, healthcare, housing and the possibility of working soon after arriving are what makes Britain worth the hazardous journey, they claim.
Father Kamal Sadeghi, who is getting set to make the perilous journey with his wife and nine-month-old daughter (pictured together), told The Times : ‘I am too tired to carry on. If they try to stop us I will drown myself’
Migrants can be seen being brought to Dover harbour by Border Force officials this morning
UK Border Force officials help migrants disembark from their patrol vessel HMC Eagle after arriving at the marina in Dover
Mr Sadeghi, 39, his wife, Niki Karimi, 33, and their daughter, Sava, who turns one on Sunday, have spent ten days living in a tent in woodland in Calais having fled Iran after his wife’s family objected to their marriage.
He told The Times: ‘We need just a normal life. We need to get on a boat. If they try to stop us I will kill myself. I would jump in the water’.
Yusshka Mir, 36, a designer from Iran, told the paper: ‘What Boris Johnson does not understand is that for us it is better to die if we cannot reach England. I would drown myself. We will all die.’
Just one in five migrants who have tried to cross the Channel have been intercepted by France – as politicians from the country now claims the newcomers are lured into Britain by its generous welfare state.
Immigration minister Chris Philp travelled to Paris on Tuesday to seek stronger enforcement measures – as Border Force continued to deal with crossings along the south coast of the UK.
Mr Philp said that French authorities had caught ‘well over a thousand’ migrants making the crossing this year, but figures from January 2020 to August 6 show the total number to have made the trip to Britain in small boats is around 4,100.
More than 600 people have made the journey just in the previous few days, suggesting that the proportion of those intercepted is roughly one fifth.
Defence select committee chairman Tobias Ellwood told the Telegraph the French were ‘unable to cope at the best of times’ – and accused the country’s authorities of ‘half-heartedness’.
‘In normal circumstances, the French are only preventing around half of the dinghies crossing the Channel – but during the current spike that’s dropped to a fifth,’ he said.
‘It’s clear that only with greater maritime collaboration with the British can we attempt to significantly reduce the success rate of the crossing.’
He also voiced support for involving the Armed Forces ‘during this heightened period’.
Deputy mayor of Calais Philippe Mignonet told French newspaper Voix Du Nord migrants risked the crossing ‘because they can work in the black economy when they want, because there is no control, not on the street or in the workplace’.
‘I fear a tragedy one day at sea, but the British blame us for their own hypocrisy,’ he said.
National Society for Rescue at Sea in Calais president Bernard Barron added that migrants have now ‘mastered the sea and, with GPS support, wait until they are in British waters to send out an SOS call’.
He said Britain’s government will criticise migrants for making the journey, ‘but they do not criticise themselves, questioning the reasons that make their country so attractive’.
It comes as lawyers representing asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel on small boats launched legal action to halt their deportation, which is due to take place on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after the Paris meeting, Mr Philp said the ‘sheer numbers’ crossing the Channel were ‘completely unacceptable’ to both the French and UK governments, so it is quite clear that more needs to be done.
‘And that is exactly what this new, comprehensive action plan that we are working on will aim to do,’ he added.
Mr Philp would not comment on details of the plan but claimed there were a ‘number of measures, some of them new, which are under discussion’.
He said it would be ‘premature’ to talk about financial commitments at this stage because the plans were still being finalised.
But he insisted both countries had ‘renewed and reaffirmed their absolute commitment to make sure this border is properly policed and this route is completely ended.’
Newly-appointed clandestine channel threat commander Dan O’Mahoney, who travelled to Paris with Mr Philp, will return to the continent early next week to continue discussions, with France due to appoint its own commander.
The Government has also faced fresh criticism over warnings nine months ago that its own policies meant migrants were resorting to more dangerous routes.
Migrants were today intercepted while travelling in a RIB from France to Dover. Men and women were seen being brought into Dover by the Border Force vessel Seeker around 7.30am and medically checked before being questioned by immigration officials
It is thought at least four boats carrying around 30 people reached Britain this morning
Migrants disembark after arriving at Dover harbour this morning
A group of 22 migrants crammed onto a dinghy were spotted stranded in the English Channel last night
The men were seen on the edge of the French side of the Channel and were not moving as the outbound motor on their boat had broken down. A group of cross-Channel swimmers returning to Britain saw the vessel bobbing in the water at around 5pm yesterday and raised the alarm
Home Secretary Priti Patel headed to Dover on Monday, and was seen disembarking from a police boat that had been out in the Channel earlier that morning
A report by the Foreign Affairs Committee published in November said: ‘A policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel was a member of the committee at the time of its inquiry.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of using inflammatory language after calling migrant boat crossings a ‘very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do’.
He also hinted at changing laws to tackle the problem, while Downing Street said Brexit would help as it would end the ‘inflexible and rigid’ requirements on how asylum applications are examined and considered.
The Home Office has formally requested help from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), with a military plane sent out on Monday to survey the Channel and alert the Coastguard and Border Force to emerging crossing attempts.
But Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said bringing in the Navy was a ‘political measure’ intended to show ministers were taking action and warned that it ‘won’t change anything’.
The Home Office has formally requested help from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), with a military plane sent out on Monday (pictured) to survey the Channel and alert the Coastguard and Border Force to emerging crossing attempts
The latest outcry follows a similar storm last summer when another spike in crossings led Mr Johnson to warn Britain was prepared to start sending back those migrants who did make it across – comments which were branded ‘misleading and inflammatory’ by campaigners.
Since then there have been a series of meetings between UK and French ministers and officials, each time with the promise of more agreements or resources in efforts to address the problem.
Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: ‘Any ”comprehensive plan” must create a safe and legal route for those who would otherwise risk a Channel crossing, otherwise it is neither comprehensive nor an effective plan.
‘These negotiations with French counterparts are doomed to further failure unless the UK Government can stop chasing unicorns and show some principled and noble leadership’.