Number 10 has defended yesterday’s immigration raid in Glasgow, which saw two men freed after a large crowd demanded their release.
The heavily-criticised operation was described as “routine” by Boris Johnson’s deputy spokesman this afternoon.
Lakhvir Singh was detained along with Sumit Sehdevi when the UK Border Agency swooped yesterday morning, sparking fury among locals which led to a long stand-off.
One protester lay underneath the Border Force vehicle preventing it from taking the men away as large crowds called for them to be released.
Mr Singh, originally from India, later told the Daily Record : “We are so grateful for the support.”
The Home Office came under fire for staging the operation on Eid, which saw Muslims across the world celebrate the end of Ramadan – a move described as “provocative” by Scotland’s justice secretary.
The PM’s deputy spokesman told journalists today: “The operation was routine, in no way was it connected to Eid.
“We’re trying to tackle illegal immigration.”
He added that the two men, both Indian nationals, “complied fully with officers” – and later confirmed that neither of them was Muslim.
The aide would not be drawn on whether Mr Johnson viewed those who scuppered the efforts to detain the duo as a “mob”.
Crowds chanted “leave our neighbours, let them go” as they blocked the van from leaving.
Lakhvir said: “I’ve been astonished and overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from the people of Glasgow.
“At around 9.30am immigration enforcement carried out a raid and we were taken to security in the van. There were only five or six people at the time but word spread and then there were crowds of hundreds.
“We are so grateful for the support.”
Lakhvir’s worried dad Baldev Singh has also thanked the protesters.
He said: “I am very upset. My son has been taken. We are very thankful to the protesters. We hope for a solution.”
The move sparked the anger of Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who said she and Scotland’s justice secretary Humza Yousaf had contacted the Home Office asking them to abandon the operation.
Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “I disagree fundamentally with @ukhomeoffice immigration policy but even putting that aside, this action was unacceptable.
“To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health & safety risk.”
Mr Yousaf added: “I abhor Home Office immigration policy at the best of times, but to have taken the action they have today is at best completely reckless, and at worst intended to provoke.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The UK Government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people by removing those with no right to be in the UK.”
“The operation in Glasgow was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences and the two Indian nationals complied with officers at all times
“The UK Government continues to tackle illegal migration in all its forms and our New Plan for Immigration will speed up the removal of those who have entered the UK illegally.”