Outgoing UK Border Force boss triggers political row by saying borders are ‘just a pain in the a***’ as anger grows among PM’s backbenchers over the migrant crisis
- Paul Lincoln’s remarks were made in speech for departure as director general
- Asylum seekers crossing the channel in small boats hit new record of 1,185
- He left his position last month as part of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s shake up
The outgoing head of the UK Border Force has triggered a political row by describing ‘bloody borders’ as ‘just such a pain in the bloody a***’.
Paul Lincoln’s incendiary remarks – made in a speech to mark his departure as director general of the Border Force – comes amid growing anger among Boris Johnson’s backbenchers over the migrant crisis.
Last week, the number of asylum seekers crossing the English Channel in small boats hit a new daily record of 1,185. More than 23,500 have made the crossing from France so far this year, a sharp rise on the 8,404 in 2020.
Mr Lincoln, who left his position last month as part of a shake-up by Home Secretary Priti Patel, ended his speech by quoting lines from rock star Shane MacGowan, of The Pogues, saying: ‘People are talking about immigration, emigration and the rest of the bloody thing. It’s all bloody crap.’
The speech by Paul Lincoln, pictured during a media briefing in Downing Street in May this year, concluded: ‘We’re all human beings, we’re all mammals, we’re all rocks, plants, rivers. Bloody borders are just such a pain in the bloody a***.’
The speech, which has been obtained by The Mail on Sunday, concluded: ‘We’re all human beings, we’re all mammals, we’re all rocks, plants, rivers. Bloody borders are just such a pain in the bloody a***.’
Last night, the Home Office declined to comment. A source confirmed that Mr Lincoln had made the remarks but declined to explain the context, saying only: ‘It was a small part of a much wider speech to friends and colleagues.’
However, a senior Government source said: ‘We have held more meetings about the small boats than any issue other than Covid, but it just seems as if we are always banging our head against the wall. Perhaps this explains why’.
Mr Lincoln left his £135,000-a-year post last month amid mounting criticism of the Border Force’s handling of the Channel migrant crisis and the long queues endured by travellers at Heathrow.
He was one of four senior civil servants heading immigration enforcement to leave under changes Home Secretary Priti Patel made in response to growing frustration within the Government at the failure to stem the flow of migrants.
A spokesman said at the time Mr Lincoln had made the decision to depart, and described him as a ‘hugely respected leader’ who had notched up ‘major achievements’.
There are fears within Whitehall that the situation will deteriorate further when migrants currently crossing from Belarus into the EU reach the Channel.
The crisis has stoked growing tensions between Tory MPs over the direction of the Government, especially from ‘Red Wall’ MPs who handed Mr Johnson his majority in 2019 by seizing lifelong Labour seats in the North and Midlands.
Many are also furious at Mr Johnson’s ‘disastrous’ handling of the Owen Paterson sleaze row, and at being whipped to support the doomed effort to spare him from censure. The affair reignited a storm over Tory MPs’ lucrative second jobs and has given Labour its first sizeable poll lead in a year.
Migrants picked up by RLNI Dover lifeboat on record day for crossings on November 11
A Savanta ComRes survey published yesterday put Labour on 40 per cent and the Tories on 34 per cent, a switch from a three-point Tory lead to a six-point Labour lead in the space of a week
Last night, one Red Wall Tory MP, Rother Valley’s Alexander Stafford, said the migrants crisis was more important for most voters than the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, which ended yesterday. The South Yorkshire MP said: ‘Apart from Covid, dealing with the migrant crisis is the No 1 priority for my constituents. The Government must put relentless focus on sorting out the mess going on in the Channel.’
Mr Stafford, the first Tory to represent the former mining community for more than 100 years, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘People in my area – not just Tory voters – see the migrant crisis as hugely important. They voted heavily here to leave the EU and a key part of that was to regain control of our borders.’
‘We are paying France £54 million to police that border but clearly, the French and the EU are reneging on their side of the bargain. We should suspend all further negotiations with the EU – including the Northern Ireland talks – until the French start stopping migrants.’
Another Red Wall MP warned the Prime Minister that his handling of the crisis could define the future of his Government – ‘more than the COP climate talks, more than sleaze, more than anything else’ – and could cost Mr Johnson victory at the next General Election.
The second group of up to 40 migrants brought into Dungeness Lifeboat station after being picked up in the English Channel, pictured on November 9
He added the Prime Minister had to show that the UK was ‘not like some sort of hapless giant that could be slapped around’, with no real control of its own borders.
He said: ‘We’re hosting this huge world climate conference but we can’t stop people crossing 25 miles of water in a rubber dinghy.’
Mr Johnson has appeared to recognise the scale of the anger by launching a belated charm offensive, inviting Tory MPs first elected in 2019 to drinks in Downing Street this week.
But angry ‘Red Wallers’ said privately it would take more than ‘a glass of warm white wine in No 10’ to appease them.
Last night, the PM faced a parliamentary inquiry into his Government’s ‘lack of regard’ for scrutiny by the Commons. Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain wrote to the Commons’ privileges committee to demand a formal inquiry.
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