Emmet McGonagle
Aug 13, 2020

Ben & Jerry’s hits out at UK politician over migrant crossings

"People cannot be illegal", the Unilever ice-cream brand said as it called for more safe routes for refugees.

Patel: UK home secretary (Getty Images)
Patel: UK home secretary (Getty Images)

Unilever ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry’s has hit out at UK home secretary Priti Patel, declaring that “people cannot be illegal” following her treatment of migrants crossing the English Channel.

In a series of tweets, the brand said that “the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture”, alongside links to The GuardianHuffPost and Tribune, which document the ill treatment of migrants attempting to cross the channel.

In a thread directed at Patel, Ben & Jerry's highlighted that “people wouldn’t make dangerous journeys if they had any other choice” and called for the UK to provide “more safe and legal routes” for refugees. More than 4,000 have made the journey this year.

“People cannot be illegal. And, it is enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention that crossing a border ‘illegally’ should not impact your asylum claim,” one tweet said.

Another added: “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.”

According to the BBC, a source close to Patel claimed that she has since deemed Ben & Jerry’s "overpriced junk food" following the tweets, which were spurred on by calls from the Home Office to make channel-crossings in small boats "unviable" for refugees.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly has since responded to Ben & Jerry’s tweets, describing the brand’s thread as “statistically inaccurate virtue signalling".

Ben & Jerry’s has been famously vocal about politics for years, with the brand showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd earlier this year.

In June, it joined an advertising boycott of Facebook in light of the social platform’s lack of provision against hate speech.

When asked for a comment, the Home Office referred Campaign to a Tweet shared by Justice Minister Chris Philip in response to Ben & Jerry’s thread, which read: “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.”

Campaign UK

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