Bookmaker Paddy Power has emblazoned an 18-wheeler truck with a controversial advertisement inviting immigrants to ‘jump in the back! (but only if you’re good at sport)'.
The vehicle in question is currently at the Dover - Calais border.
Spotted at Dover this morning... pic.twitter.com/3RCTQp7mdl— Paddy Power (@paddypower) July 2, 2015
So far it would appear the “joke” is going down like the proverbial lead balloon. And the inference that Scot Murray is an immigrant is also causing confusion...
.@paddypower wow. Intolerant, anti-immigrant and sexist. *applauds*— William Barter (@WJBarter) July 2, 2015
— Michael Moran (@TheMichaelMoran) July 2, 2015
Andy Murray has been labelled as an immigrant here. Oh dear https://t.co/NakP1K3Hkz— Kevin Palmer (@kpsundayworld) July 2, 2015
Ah yes, Andy Murray, that famous immigrant. https://t.co/SagSid5DeF— Wardy (@td_ward) July 2, 2015
Paddy Power, the company that thinks Andy Murray is foreign— shame (@BolaBankz) July 2, 2015
Please tell me that Paddy Power immigrant van isn't for real? Even they aren't that crass- are they?— Sam Down (@GreenSamPAFC) July 2, 2015
In a blog posted on the Paddy Power site, the bookmaker explained: “That’s a reference to the fact that so many of England’s most celebrated athletes of recent years aren’t actually English at all.
“For example, some of these immigrants that the English public are happy to engage in a happy double-standard for on account of their athletic prowess include definitely-not-a-drugs-cheat Mo Farah, grumpy tennis star Andy Murray, highly underpaid football player Raheem Sterling, general liability Manu Tualagi and Eoin Morgan – who is about as English as a burrito, wearing a beret, dancing a tango on top of a left-hand drive Saab.”
Describing the stunt as “hi-jinks” and “MEGALOLZ!” it signs off: "So – to summarise, lots of people are keen to stop migrants arriving in England, but at the same time will cheer on high calibre athletes representing their country, even if those athletes aren’t actually from their country.”
A spokesman for Paddy Power told HuffPo UK: "It was meant as a bit of light hearted fun around Murray’s Wimbledon campaign and the current situation in Calais. As with all Paddy Power stunts the intention is to entertain, not offend."
Paddy Power has a history of creating risqué adverts and indeed Harry Dromey, the son of acting Labour leader Harriet Harman, is employed by the firm to "dream up naughty stunts." We are informed the formally-titled "Mischief Champion" had no hand in this stunt, however.
Meanwhile Home Secretary Theresa May is due to hold talks in Paris amid the deepening crisis of migrants camped in Calais looking to cross the Channel to Britain.
May will meet her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve as cross-Channel chaos sparked by striking ferry workers continues to disrupt sailings from Dover.
Thousands of lorry drivers are parked on the M20 in Kent for a fourth day as the partial closure of the Port of Calais has crippled Channel crossings.
Migrants camped near the French port have been taking advantage of slow-moving and queueing traffic by trying to board UK-bound vehicles.