Mark Reckless.(Reuters / Luke MacGregor)
UKIP parliamentary by-election candidate Mark Reckless has campaigned for tighter immigration controls, citing an unlikely inspiration – none other than the former ruler of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi.
Reckless, who resigned his seat in Rochester and Strood to stand in a by-election there, after defecting from the Conservative Party in September, said the former Libyan president had stopped boats filled with refugees from sailing to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.
“Whatever people say about Gaddafi, one thing is he didn’t allow those boats to come across,” Reckless said.
“He had an agreement with Italy that stopped it. Since he’s gone we’ve no idea what’s going on in Libya, it’s too dangerous for anyone to go there.”
Muammar Gaddafi.(AFP Photo / Rick Gershon)
The comments follows statements made earlier this week by the government stating that it would withdraw from future EU Mediterranean rescue operations, citing that saving refugees from drowning would encourage more people to risk the voyage to Europe.
Last year, around 40,000 migrants from Syria, Eritrea and Somalia crossed into Italy on boats across the Mediterranean, and in October last year nearly 400 migrants were killed when a boat sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Reckless also attacked his former party leader, PM David Cameron, saying the UK’s involvement in deposing Gaddafi in 2011 and backing Libyan rebels had led to “even worse guys” replacing “bad guys.”
“We bombed them, that’s what we did. That’s how this government helped Libya. It got rid of somebody, albeit an Arab nationalist dictator, who actually gave a level of stability to the area,” he said.
UKIP’s press office has not made a formal statement on Reckless’ comments. However in 2011, UKIP leader Nigel Farage told RT the government should not have intervened in the Libyan conflict.
“If we go in to support the rebels, we don’t know who they are, what they stand for and what they want,”he said. “I don’t think anybody has thought this through.”
Italy has asked for extra support to help deal with the influx of Mediterranean refugees, saying as many as 600,000 people were fleeing North Africa, with around 20 percent of them trying to enter Britain.
TAP – Are UKIP genuinely anti-war, or just posturing? They are signed up Friends Of Israel, just like the Tories.