Blunkett defends Fallon over ‘swamp’ migration

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was right to speak out about immigration, despite the outcry over his use of the term “swamped”, former Labour home secretary David Blunkett has said.

David Blunkett
David Blunkett

Mr Blunkett’s comments come after after David Cameron yesterday distanced himself from the words used by Mr Fallon, saying politicians need to choose their language carefully when it comes to immigration.

Mr Fallon claimed that some towns risk being “swamped” by migrant workers from Europe.

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Writing in the Daily Mail Mr Blunkett recalled the controversy that arose from his own use of the term “swamped” when speaking on the issue 12 years ago.

He said: “Yet for all such condemnation, I believe that both Michael Fallon and I were right to speak out on this issue and voice the concerns of ordinary voters.

“Just because immigration is deeply controversial, that cannot mean that we should avoid talking about it.”

He added: “What we need from all politicians is honesty and openness, not a desire for political point-scoring or displays of self-righteous importance.”

He said the issue of immigration is too serious not to be discussed and said it is “foolish” to deny that there are some problems associated with it.

Mr Blunkett detailed his own views on how to address the issue, including strengthening borders, requiring immigrants to speak English and denying benefits to those who do not build up an entitlement through work.

The Prime Minister told the Commons yesterday that Mr Fallon was right to correct himself.

Mr Cameron said he agreed Mr Fallon could have chosen his words in a different way.

Mr Fallon had significantly ramped up Tory rhetoric on the sensitive issue with his warning that some areas felt “under siege” and action was needed “to prevent whole towns and communities being swamped by huge numbers of migrant workers”.

The Cabinet minister admitted he was “a bit careless” in his choice of language although stood by the substance of his remarks.