Inflammatory remarks by a local MP were yesterday being blamed for an extraordinary attack by an angry mob of local residents which left a Portsmouth centre for asylum seekers a smoking ruin. Just hours before the mob – wielding flaming torches, crucifixes and wooden stakes – stormed the centre, Sir Harry Ronson-Tewel, Tory MP for Portsmouth Harbour, had launched a bizarre tirade against asylum seekers, accusing them of not just sucking the economic lifeblood from Britain, but of sucking its citizen’s actual blood! “Just look at where they’re coming from – Eastern Europe! Albania, Yugoslavia and even Transylvania,” opined the notoriously right-wing backbencher in a local television interview. “I don’t like to racially stereotype people but, well, we’ve all heard the stories and seen the films – evil gypsy fortune tellers, vampires and withered old witches! As for the werewolves – well, just look at how hairy most of these immigrants are! Is it any wonder there are so many reports of big cats and giant dogs running around the British countryside when we’re allowing such obvious lycanthropes in, willy-nilly?”

According to Sir Harry, a decline in church attendances and rise in paganism and interest in the occult has directly coincided with the increased number of asylum seekers arriving in Britain over he past few years. He is especially worried about the asylum seekers influence on Britain’s youth. “I’ve seen it for myself – ever since they opened a centre for these people in my constituency, local youths have become increasingly lethargic, unable even to summon up the energy to get out of bed in the mornings,” he raged. “Its getting so bad, most of ’em don’t even come out in daylight – when they do appear they’re pale and red-eyed! Damn it, many of ’em have even taken to dressing like vampires and zombies! The social workers and liberal do-gooders may claim its down to drugs, but I know the effects of vampirism when I see it!” Consequently, the backbencher is now proposing that immigrants and asylum seekers from Eastern Europe should now be subjected to an ‘unholiness’ test before being allowed entry into Britain. Under his scheme immigration officers at ports and airports would be able to strip search suspects and examine them for the mark of the devil. In extreme cases they would be allowed to call in priests to sprinkle holy water on suspected supernatural entities. “If they burst into flame, they’d know that they’d caught a live – or rather undead – one,” he enthuses. “Of course, if that doesn’t work they can always be forced to kiss the holy cross, eat garlic or, in the case of suspected witches, they could bring back the ducking stool!”

Within hours of his television rant, Ronson-Tewel’s constituents had apparently decided to put his proposals into practice. Eyewitnesses have described how the mob – wielding flaming torches, crucifixes and wooden stakes – stormed the centre just after midnight. “It was a terrifying sight,” says Mary Grummet, who saw the drama unfold from her flat opposite the centre. “They were all chanting ‘kill the monsters’, as they surged forward and smashed down the main doors! Next thing, the whole place was ablaze! To be fair though, I don’t think they actually intended to burn down the building, I think it was just stray sparks from where they burning some of the women at the stake which set it off!” Whilst the ferocity of the attack may have surprised some, most local residents believed that such an eruption of violence was inevitable. “Ever since they opened that centre weird stuff has been happening,” comments local shopkeeper Barry Nooner. “I remember I refused one old crone credit once – she cursed me in that heathen tongue of theirs and gave me the evil eye! The very next day all the tyres on my van had gone flat!” Beer at the local pub also mysteriously went off overnight after several of the younger asylum seekers were barred whilst local women began to fear that their menfolk were being bewitched by the female asylum seekers. “My Tommy was fine until those dusky young harlots started hanging around our steetcorners,” complains eighteen stone mother of four Vera McMuff. “Next thing I knew, he was out to all hours, and when he was here he seemed to be in a trance – ignoring me and neglecting the kids. He also seemed to lose all interest in sex – that just wasn’t like him at all! It was like the very lifeforce was being drawn out of him. He didn’t even have the energy to go and sign on anymore!”

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the locals are completely unrepentant over the destruction of the centre. “This was a good place to live before those bastards came here,” says Bob Ginchy of the Lady Hamilton estate, a collection of crumbling concrete tower blocks. “I’ve been looking for work for seven years and all I’ve been offered are lousy unskilled jobs with pay so piss poor it isn’t worth my while getting out of bed for! Then these buggers start turning up with their fancy medical degrees and the like and suddenly start getting offered all these highly paid professional positions which have mysteriously appeared!” He is no doubt that the predominantly Muslim immigrants were evil, pointing out that they were never seen to cross the threshold of a church. “My mate who was in the mob reckoned that they all recoiled from the cross when they were given the chance to save themselves by kissing it. If that isn’t proof, I don’t know what is,” says Ginchy.

“Frankly, I’m appalled that supposedly civilised people could do such a thing,” commented Superintendent Bob Stay, as Hampshire Constabulary launched an investigation into the attack. “The damage to the centre could run to hundreds of thousands of pounds – I just don’t understand this kind of mindless vandalism, there really is no excuse for such behaviour.” Blaming the disturbance on local youth gangs under the evil influence of gangsta rap music, the police have expressed scepticism at the idea that the centre was attacked by local witch hunters. Playing down media speculation that many of the asylum seekers had been staked through the heart, Stay insisted that the police’s main priority would be to round up the hundreds of asylum seekers believed to have escaped during the attack.

For his part, Sir Harry Ronson-Tewke has emphatically denied that he is guilty of racial stereotyping or that he is in any way xenophobic. “I have nothing against foreign immigrants, provided they have something to offer British society. Take the Asians – magnificent shopkeepers to a man, marvelous family values! Even the West Indians – with their wide brimmed hats and pink Cadillacs, they’ve become the colourful mainstay of our pimping profession,” he says. “Quite frankly though, we just don’t need any more black magic in this country – we’ve already got quite enough already with those Africans and their amusing witch doctors and bizarre ceremonies!”