British Prime Minister David Cameron's claims that pulling the UK out of the European Union would cause migrant camps to appear in southern England has infuriated eurosceptic British social media users.
The British leader is being heavily criticized on social media after he spoke at a news conference on Monday saying thousands of refugees could flock to Britain from France if constituents decided to vote in favor of Britain leaving the European Union.
This, Cameron implied, could lead to migrant camps, such as the now infamous "Jungle" in Calais, appearing in southern England.
This comes as the country is on its way to holding an in-or-out referendum on its EU membership, and as Cameron’s latest negotiations with Brussels have left many in the out campaign unsatisfied.
Cameron's speech unleashed a torrent of reactions on social media, with many discarding the PM‘s comments as "scaremongering" tactics.
Cameron implied that, were Britain to leave the EU, this would invalidate a standing 13-year-old agreement between the UK and France that allows British customs officers to patrol on French soil near the cities of Calais and Dunkirk, where much of the passenger flow to the UK comes from, including many illegal migrants.
British border officials have used their powers under the agreement to inspect trains, cars and trucks making their way to the UK through the Eurotunnel or via ferry, allowing them to spot and bar illegal immigrants from entering Britain before they even make it to the island.
In or out?
The deal, known as Le Touquet treaty, was signed in February 2003 and though it has no clear link to the UK’s membership of the European Union, there are fears within the British government that France would rescind it if an out vote were to win during the referendum.
In France, there have been calls, most notably by Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart, to repeal the treaty on the grounds that it only serves British interests and that it causes the camps to spring up in France instead.
Last October, France’s Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve warned the UK it should expect "countermeasures" if they left the EU, which many interpreted as a hint that France could pull out of the agreement.
However, many on social media brushed the claim aside, denouncing Cameron’s logic and saying exiting the EU would allow the UK to reinforce its borders instead.
Many others went after Cameron’s campaigning tactics, saying he was only resorting to "scaremongering" because of the perceived poor results of his negotiations with Brussels.
The latter, though it did include a significant concession on cutting welfare payments to other EU citizens living in the UK, was perceived as a failure by most in the eurosceptic no camp, leading some to call him "desperate."
Cameron has backed a plan by European Council President Donald Tusk to keep Britain in the 28-member bloc. He has not yet set a date for the referendum, which will depend on a final round of negotiations with EU leaders at a European summit, on February 18 and 19.