- Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s unexpectedly found itself in a huge row with the British government after the company criticized its handling of migrant boats arriving from France.
- UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has taken a strict stance on the issue, announcing that the government would stop any “illegal” attempts to reach the country.
- In a scathing Twitter thread, Ben & Jerry’s called on the British government to show more “humanity”, adding “people cannot be illegal.”
- In retaliation, British ministers branded Ben & Jerry’s ice cream “overpriced junk food,” and told the company to “stick to making ice cream.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has found itself in a heated row with the British government after the company criticized its handling of migrants arriving by boat from France.
The UK has seen more than 500 people arriving in dinghies on its beaches in the last few days, prompting Home Secretary Priti Patel to announce certain measures the government was taking to stop “illegal” attempts to reach the country.
Patel has called in the British military to help and asked the French government to stop the craft from leaving. She also recently announced the creation of a “Clandestine Channel Threat Commander,” whose job is to make the Channel route “unviable for small boat crossings,” CNN reported.
“I know that when the British people say they want to take back control of our borders — this is exactly what they mean,” Patel wrote on Twitter last week, referencing a slogan commonly used by Brexit supporters.
In a Twitter thread posted on Tuesday, Ben & Jerry’s UK account lashed out at Patel and urged the British government to show more “humanity.”
“Hey @PritiPatel we think the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change, and torture,” Ben & Jerry’s tweeted.
“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,” it added. “People cannot be illegal.”
The Twitter thread also included several links to media reports about the dangerous 21-mile crossing migrants have to take in overcrowded dinghies to get to the UK.
—Ben & Jerry’s UK (@benandjerrysUK) August 11, 2020
While the Home Secretary did not directly respond to Ben & Jerry’s criticism, other ministers have attacked the ice cream maker.
Minister in Foreign Office James Cleverly wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “Can I have a large scoop of statistically inaccurate virtue signaling with my grossly overpriced ice cream please.”
Another minister for immigration, Chris Philp, told Ben & Jerry’s to “stick to ice cream,” adding: “They’re ‘fleeing’ France, which is safe, civilized & has a good asylum system,” the Daily Mail reported.
A spokesperson for the Home Office told Business Insider: “Priti Patel and Chris Philip have been quite vocal about the issue this week and their main message has not changed. Ben & Jerry’s aren’t fully considering the broader context around the migrant boat crossings, which in some cases are facilitated by criminal gangs and are of serious concern to the British people.”
Many migrants arriving on British beaches are fleeing poverty or persecution in countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, a close associate of President Donald Trump, has highlighted the issue for several weeks on social media.
He visited the port in the British town of Dover — where many of the boats arrive — earlier this week, telling reporters that the situation was becoming “a national humiliation.”
“With all the tough talk and with it happening every day, it’s becoming a bit of a national humiliation,” Farage said, according to the Daily Mail.
“Until people know that coming via this route they will not be allowed to stay, they will just keep on coming,” Farage said, according to the Daily Mail.
Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of using its platform to support issues, including racial inequality, climate change, and voting rights.
The company has been a very vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, issuing a statement in June that called on to end a “culture of white supremacy.”
In the same month, Ben & Jerry’s also announced that it would boycott Facebook over the platform’s lack of hate speech moderation.
Ben & Jerry’s did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.