MP blames ad vans for racist attack on Corby mosque

Andy Sawford

Andy Sawford

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The Government’s “go home” vans have been blamed by the town’s MP for a racist attack on a Corby mosque.

Labour MP for Corby Andy Sawford said he was appalled to see a mosque was targeted shortly after the Home Office’s controversial vans toured the country.

He said during an urgent question on border controls: “When I visited a week after the Home Office’s racist go home vans had been touring English cities - (at) the mosque in Corby I was appalled to find the words in very large letters ‘go home’ outside the mosque.”

Mr Sawford suggested the culprits were motivated by the vehicles.

He said: “That act was the act of a tiny minority of the people in my community spurred on by this Government’s racist attack on the people of this country.”

Immigration Minister Mark Harper disagreed with Mr Sawford’s description of the vans.

Mr Harper said: “I simply don’t agree with you and, actually, if the polling is to be believed neither do the British people.

“Most people in this country do not agree with the characterisation of our pilot: asking people who have no rights to be in the country - it was aimed at people who have no right to be here, not British citizens, not people who are here lawfully - very clearly aimed at people here illegally asking them to leave the country.”

Mr Harper was referring to recent surveys which indicate that the majority of the public do not regard the signs as racist.

One YouGov poll showed 66 per cent of the public “tend to” or “strongly” disagree that the advertising is racist.

Pointing out that the scheme has not yet been launched on a national level, Mr Harper added: “We’re running a pilot.

“We will look at the results of the pilot to decide if it will be rolled out or not. And I simply don’t agree with you and I don’t think the British public do either.”