Calais migrants
Calais migrants have been described as "marauding" by the current foreign secretaryPhilippe Huguen/AFP

They have been called scaremongering, mean-spirited and shameful. But are the comments about migrants made by the UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond also racist?

When asked about the ongoing migrant crisis at Calais, Hammond said tighter security was needed to protect lorry drivers and the Channel Tunnel from the desperate Asian and African people "marauding" around the area, as they try to make it to Britain and claim asylum.

In the same interview with the BBC, he said the economic imbalance between Europe and Africa would mean millions of migrants inevitably scrambling to the EU's shores – where they could be "pretty confident" they would stay rather than be returned home if they make it.

"Now that is not a sustainable situation because Europe can't protect itself, preserve its standard of living and social infrastructure if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa," Hammond said, suggesting those not deemed to have credible asylum claims should be sent home.

Controversy surrounds Hammond's assertion that migrants are"marauding" – or plundering – Calais. It comes just days after Prime Minister David Cameron was criticised for using the term "swarm" to refer to migrants, due to the word's insect connotations.

Some users on Twitter are accusing Hammond of using a racist dog-whistle. But others have defended him for telling it like it is as migrants cause disruption to the transport routes in Calais by vandalising fences, jumping on the back of lorries and blocking trains in the Channel Tunnel.

What do you think? Is it racist to describe the migrants at Calais as "marauding"? Take our poll.