Banksy hits back after home secretary called his Glastonbury boat art ‘vile’

An inflatable migrant boat was carried across the crowd during Little Simz’s set on the Pyramid Stage on Monday, having also been seen while Idles played the Other Stage on Friday (Picture: Luke Brennan/Redferns)

Banksy has hit back at James Cleverly after he labelled his small boat artwork at Glastonbury ‘vile and unacceptable’.

The iconic street artist was behind a display which saw an inflatable boat filled with migrant dummies wearing orange life jackets hoisted above the crowd on Friday night.

Home secretary Mr Cleverly accused Banksy of ‘trivialising’ small boat migrant crossings in the Channel by arranging for the artwork to be held up while the band Idles played on the Other Stage at Worthy Farm.

It was also held aloft during Little Simz’s set on the Pyramid Stage on Monday.

He told Sky News earlier this week: ‘There are a bunch of people that are joking and celebrating about criminal actions which cost lives.

‘People die in the Mediterranean, they die on the Channel. This is not funny. It is vile. This is a celebration of the loss of life in the Channel.

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‘Something like that, I think, is deeply distasteful. I mean children die in the Channel because of the actions of these vile criminals and joking about it and celebrating, I think it is completely unacceptable.’

Home secretary James Cleverly labelled Banksy’s artwork as ‘vile and unacceptable’ (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Banksy has hit back at James Cleverly over the artwork he put together for the festival (Picture: Luke Brennan/Redferns)

He added: ‘To joke about it, to celebrate it at a pop festival when there have been children dying in the Channel, is completely unacceptable.’

However, Banksy has taken to Instagram today to issue a response to Mr Cleverly alongside a picture of a real sea rescue boat he has funded.

The Bristolian artist said: ‘The Home Secretary called my Glastonbury boat “vile and unacceptable” which seemed a bit over the top.

‘The real boat I fund, the MV Louise Michel, rescued 17 unaccompanied children from the central Med on Monday night.

‘As punishment, the Italian authorities have detained it – which seems vile and unacceptable to me.’

It comes after Mr Cleverly had also reshared a video on X on Sunday of the inflatable boat crowdsurfing and said: ‘Festivalgoers cosplaying as migrants, and celebrating the actions of people smugglers, while they party is awful.

‘Whatever your political views, this isn’t something we should trivialise.’ 

The boat artwork originally appeared while the rock band, also from Bristol, were performing Danny Nedelko, a 2018 release which begins with the lyrics: ‘My blood brother is an immigrant, a beautiful immigrant.’

According to The Guardian, the band said the demonstration was devised by Banksy and they were not aware it had happened until after the set had finished.

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