JACOB Rees-Mogg has been accused of justifying concentration camps used by British forces by comparing the death rate of prisoners to mortality figures in Glasgow.

During a Question Time panel debate on the reputation of Winston Churchill, Rees-Mogg sought to defend the former Prime Minister, who once claimed British concentration camps used for white Boers, in what is now South Africa, produced “the minimum of suffering”.

Approximately 28,000 people died in such camps during the Boer War between 1899 and 1902. Another 14,000 black Africans are thought to have died in British camps.

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Reflecting on the war, Churchill said: “That was before war degenerated. It was great fun galloping about.”

Rees-Mogg seemed to use a comparison with the death rate in Glasgow during that period in an attempt to mitigate criticism of Churchill.

He said: “South African concentration camps had exactly the same mortality rate as existed in Glasgow did at the time. They're not a good thing but where else were people going to live?"

Grace Blakley, a research fellow for the Institute for Public Policy Research, accused the Brexiteer of trying to justify the camps.

Rees-Mogg replied: “No, I wasn't. We're talking about the Boer War had people but in camps for their protection. I'm afraid you are confusing concentration camps with Hitler's extermination camps.”

Blakley interjected once more: “I'm not saying they are the same thing. I'm saying any concentration is de-facto an awful, awful thing.”

The Tory MP then attempted to clarify his position. “These people were interned for their safety. Now that is not a good thing. The death rate was exactly the same as Glasgow. Death rates 100 years ago were considerably higher than they are now for all sorts of reasons,” he said.

“It was not systematic murder. That is simply wrong. I'm not advocating people being taken off their farms and put into camps but there was a war going on and people were being taken there to be fed because the farmers were away fighting the Boer War.

“This is one of the things where you've got to understand the history of what was going on, not just look at it from the comfort of 2019 and say that this is the same as what was going on with Hitler. It is completely and utterly different.”

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The concentration camps used during the Boer War, which often failed to provide basic living standards, are regularly listed among the British Empire’s worst atrocities.

More than 100,000 thousand people in total were interned, including one sixth of the Boer population – most of whom were women and children.