BORIS JOHNSON believes EU migrants have been able to “treat the UK as though it’s basically part of their own country” for too long.
The prime minister made the comments during an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News in which he reiterated his plans for the introduction of an Australian-style points-based system for migrants moving to the UK.
A key pledge from the Conservative Party candidate in the days running up to the election, Johnson is planning to introduce the system once the UK leaves the European Union.
“I’ve said that what we want to do is bear down on migration, particularly of unskilled workers who have no job to come to and I think that’s what’s happened over the last couple of decades or more,” he said.
“You’ve seen quite a large number of people coming in from the whole of the EU — 580 million population — able to treat the UK as though it’s basically part of their own country and the problem with that is there has been no control at all and I don’t think that is democratically accountable.”
“You have got to have a system by which politicians can say to people, ‘Well, yes, we are letting people in, but we are doing it in a way that is controlled and checked’.”
Johnson told Sky News that the system would result in a reduction in the number of migrants entering the UK.
The remarks have been met with widespread criticism on social media with some on twitter branding them "xenophobic", "racist" and "actual hate speech".
"Jesus, that is just grim," Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain wrote on Twitter. "One of the triumphs of modern times, being able to treat 27 vastly different countries as home, being repackaged and sold as cheap, small-minded xenophobia."
"This is where we’re at now," Gary Lineker wrote. "Nauseating xenophobia."
"Breaks my heart to hear the UK Prime Minister spout this bigotry and hate to win votes," Labour MP David Lammy added. "Blaming migrants for national government failures has a long and ugly history."
According to figures published by The Irish Times, since 2008, 165,100 people have emigrated from Ireland to the UK, which is more than both Australia and Canada combined.
From 2016 and the Brexit vote, there has been a notable reversal in the number moving from the UK to Ireland compared with those emigrating there.
In 2018, just 11,400 moved to the UK from Ireland compared with 20,100 in the opposite direction.