A gay man who is currently seeking asylum in the UK says Tory MP Lee Anderson needs to learn how to respect refugees by walking in his shoes.
Tony, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, was responding to comments made by Anderson, the deputy chair of the Tory party, in an interview with Express.co.uk this week.
Lee Anderson hit out at asylum seekers who don’t want to be housed on the controversial Bibby Stockholm barge, saying: “If they don’t like barges then they should f**k off back to France.”
He added: “These people come across the Channel in small boats… if they don’t like the conditions they are housed in here then they should go back to France, or better, not come at all in the first place.”
His comments have been roundly condemned by the opposition, activists and social media.
Tony, who fled an African country three years ago after facing violence and persecution because of his sexual orientation, tells PinkNews that Anderson and other MPs should step into the shoes of an asylum seeker before they speak.
The government has been clamping down on people seeking asylum in recent years. (Getty)
“I wish Lee Anderson could be taken to where we come from, maybe for two weeks or one month, and see if he talks the same way,” Tony says.
“If we give them my life, or another person’s life, for maybe one month, they won’t use the same language. They’ll feel the pinch of being in those kinds of situations.”
He continues: “When you’ve been fed with a silver spoon, you can say whatever – you’ve never seen the pain of a person who doesn’t have anything to live on. All he wants is just to survive.”
Lee Anderson comments make communities ‘hate’ refugees
Tony tells PinkNews that he and his family would often go without food for up to a week at a time when he lived in his home country – they were sometimes forced to survive solely on water.
He also recalls how he had to start working in construction when he was just seven years old so he could help his family stay afloat.
Rishi Sunak’s government has faced condemnation over its approach to asylum seekers. (Getty)
Tony says Anderson and others in government would treat people seeking asylum with “respect” if they knew what it was like to survive on an empty stomach.
Comments like those made by Anderson only serve to whip up hatred – and they’re making his life harder, he adds.
“Even the communities here, they see us as criminals. They don’t trust us really because of these guys [in government]. And we’re not criminals, but these guys, the way they talk, they make communities hate us for no reason.
“They play games with people’s lives… You feel sad and ashamed because the humanity is gone. There’s no humanity anymore.”
Lee Anderson continues to face furious backlash over his comments about asylum seekers, though No 10 has stood by him.
Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, told Sky News that his comments were “clearly wrong” and accused him of “ramping up” anti-refugee rhetoric.
She said Anderson was trying to “distract from the fact that the government is failing” and urged him to instead focus on “sorting the problems out”.
The UK government continues to maintain an intense focus on asylum seekers – the recently enacted Illegal Migration Act was introduced in an effort to stop migrants arriving on small boats and via other means deemed illegal by the government.
The government has faced stinging criticism from asylum advocacy groups over its efforts to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda and its use of barges to detain migrants.