António Guterres, Portugal’s former Socialist prime minister-turned-UN-high-commissioner, has come in for a pasting from Tory MPs over remarks he made about David Cameron’s proposed law to clamp down on illegal immigration.
Guterres was criticised for being the leader “who increased benefit levels in Portugal and then resigned before his party was defeated in elections”.
“We are not going to accept lessons on how to manage our borders from a failed Portuguese Socialist transformed into an unelected UN bureaucrat,” railed Tory party vice-president Bob Neill, while Conservative MP Douglas Carswell said Guterres’ remarks were “foolish” and should be “immediately filed in the waste paper basket”.
Guterres left politics in 2001, declaring: “I am resigning to prevent the country from falling into a political swamp” – criticised David Cameron’s get-tough stance on illegal immigration saying the proposed law could stigmatise foreigners and create a climate of ethnic profiling.
His remarks came in a document compiled for the UN refugee agency. It seems unlikely that much heed will be taken of them however, as even Labour MPs have resented Guterres’ intrusion.
Talking to the Telegraph newspaper, Labour chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, Keith Vaz, said he “did not recognise” Guterres’ criticisms, adding it was “very extraordinary that a UN commissioner was spending his time analysing British immigration policy”.
Vaz added: “Once high commissioners for refugees start criticising individual immigration policies of member states, it does open up a whole new area, which, frankly, is not the remit of the United Nations. Otherwise they would have to do an audit of the immigration policy of all 145 member states.”
Photo: António Guterres criticised David Cameron’s get-tough stance on illegal immigration