18 March 2015, The Tablet

Bishop attacks Ukip for discriminating against migrants

Bishop Patrick Lynch said he was "appalled by any suggestion of discriminating against migrants" after the party’s leader, Nigel Farage, said that immigrants should be made to wait before being allowed to access the state education system.

The disagreement between Bishop Lynch and Ukip came only days after the bishop met with two Ukip MEPs for a discussion on policies in which Ukip claimed it had gained “top marks on the headline issues”.

The dispute was sparked by Mr Farage saying in an interview: “I wouldn’t foresee people coming into Britain immediately being allowed to bring children to go through the state system.”

A section on the Ukip website says: “Immigrants must financially support themselves and their dependants for five years."

Bishop Lynch, who is the bishop conference’s spokesman on immigration, responded by saying: “The UK has a long, proud and humane tradition of responding to the needs of immigrants’ children. It is proven that education is a key element in integrating diverse communities. I recognise that in some places there are strains on resource but as a society we need to respond to this need rather than scapegoating any one group. I am appalled by any suggestion of discriminating against immigrants.”

A Ukip spokesman then distanced the party from Mr Farage’s remarks and emphasised that Ukip’s spokesman on migration is Steven Woolfe, the MEP for the North West, who was one of the party’s representatives who met with Bishop Lynch last Thursday. 

"Just as the Catholic faith does not depend on the arbitrary whim of every passing pontiff, so Ukip policy is decided by the National Executive Council, rather than in a speculative response to a journalist,” the spokesman said. “The Ukip spokesman on migration is Steven Woolfe and this isn't part of the policy package. Bishop Lynch can relax."

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