Steerpike

Is Ben & Jerry’s really best placed to lecture Priti Patel?

Is Ben & Jerry’s really best placed to lecture Priti Patel?
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Yesterday afternoon, the ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s made an unusual contribution to the debate over how best to deal with migrants crossing the English Channel.

In a series of tweets, the ice cream corporation blasted the Home Secretary Priti Patel, and advised her that the ‘real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture.’

In response, a Home Office source hit back, telling the BBC that the government wasn’t afraid of ‘upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food’ if it meant deterring migrants from crossing the Channel.

It’s perhaps strange enough that an ice cream brand has ended up trading blows with the UK government over its immigration and asylum policy. But Mr S wonders if Ben & Jerry’s, which is owned by the corporate behemoth Unilever, is really best placed to preach to the Home Secretary about how to treat the world’s poorest citizens.

In 2016, Unilever was forced to settle with almost 600 workers in India after they were allegedly exposed to mercury in one of the company’s thermometer plants. And a Dutch research centre alleged that in 2014 the company’s Kenyan workers were poorly housed with many experiencing sexual harassment. Unilever denies the allegations.

In 2018 Ben & Jerry’s came out with an anti-Trump ‘Pecan Resist’ flavour and patted itself on the back for visibly opposing ‘policies that attack and roll back decades of progress’. Should we now expect a new flavour for an anti-Home Secretary brand – the Priti whippy? Or perhaps Ben & Jerry’s should begin by putting its own house in order…

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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