Labor would place asylum seekers on barges for a ‘very short’ time

Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock said former military bases might continue to be used for a period of possibly around six months during work to bring delays in claims for damages down from a record high.

The Labor leader claimed the continued use of the controversial strategy was due to the “utter chaos and wreckage of the Tory asylum crisis”.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has previously indicated that she could not shut down the sites immediately, but declined to comment explicitly on the policy.

On Sunday, Mr Kinnock told BBC Breakfast: “The reality is we have tens of thousands of people in hotels, we have to get them out of the hotels and we also have to get them off the barges and out of the military camps.”

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“Due to the utter chaos and wreckage of the Tory asylum crisis, we have to move on in a very short time and use the infrastructure in place, including the barges and hotels.”

Mr Kinnock said he could not give a specific timetable as ministers worked to reduce the decision backlog from a record high of more than 172,000 cases.

The Labor MP added: “We will be forced to take these emergency measures because of the chaos that the Government has caused.”

“I am confident that within six months of the Labor government we will catch up and evict people from hotels and put them in suitable accommodation or properly remove them from the country because they have no right to be here.” .”

Mr Kinnock added to Sky News that he was “deeply unhappy” at having to resort to the barges.

Read more: Labor government could continue using barges to house asylum seekers

“This is the last thing we want to do because we believe that people who apply for asylum should be placed in decent housing,” he said.

The Bibby Stockholm, docked at Portland, Dorset, is the first barge procured by the Government to accommodate asylum seekers while their applications are being processed.

After a series of delays, there are still no migrants living there as security concerns remain, centered on plans to house around 500 people – well above initial capacity.

The Labor Party’s position comes as the UK Government’s Immigration Secretary said the first asylum seekers will proceed on the barge Bibby Stockholm “in the coming days” after a series of delays over security concerns came.

Immigration Secretary Robert Jenrick said about 50 people will board the ship in Portland Harbour, Dorset, as part of a first tranche this week.

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He offered a guarantee it would be a “safe facility” after the firefighters union warned it was a “potential death trap”, citing concerns such as overcrowding and access to emergency exits.

After an initial delay during work in Cornwall, the Bibby barge met local opposition on its arrival in Portland on 18 July.

Various expected dates have been given for the first people to be housed and then missed, but Mr Jenrick said it will be this week.

“We hope that in the coming days the first migrants will board the boat, I won’t give you an exact date – but very soon,” he told Sky News.

“For security reasons, we prefer not to disclose the arrival dates of individuals.

“You won’t have to wait long. This is an important step forward.

“I can absolutely assure you that this is a secure facility.”

He said increasing the barge’s capacity to around 500 capacity is still the plan, although the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has concerns about the vessel, originally designed to accommodate around 200 people.

Labor and Conservatives are at loggerheads over migration, while the government launches a ‘small boat week’ with related announcements.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman accused Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and “his fellow activists” of “doing their best to sabotage our efforts” to fight small boats.

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