Home Secretary David Blunkett, stung by newspaper accusations that the Government’s performance on the asylum issue has been “useless”, has responded both in the House of Commons and elsewhere with a few telling gibes of his own.
“They would have us close Britain down. Well, I’ve got a message for them – we can’t respond to impossible demands,” he said.
He has branded some media coverage “racist” and urged Catholic religious leaders, whose conference he was addressing, to “go out, buy papers critical of the Government’s policies – then write to them to complain.”
He said he had been “horrified” by a piece in The Sun, in which asylum seekers had been accused of bringing terror and disease to the UK.
And referring to a commentary by Sun political editor Trevor Kavanagh, Blunkett called the piece “racist”.
He said: “I meet the editor of the Daily Mail regularly, because I still desperately want to see if I can change their attitude.
“I used to meet Rebekah Wade, who was editor of the News of the World and now edits The Sun. Whether I will in the future I don’t know.”
The Sun’s response to Blunkett was to ask on its front page : “You all right Dave? Sun fears for Home Secretary’s sanity.”
A Mail spokesman retorted drily: “Buying papers is a good idea – complaining is everybody’s right.”