The British authorities got here underneath hearth on Thursday after newspapers revealed it had studied housing asylum seekers on disused oil rigs, banishing them to camps in Moldova or Papua New Guinea, or constructing floating partitions within the sea to maintain them out.
The primary opposition Labour Celebration mentioned the plans, revealed in leaked papers printed by a number of newspapers, confirmed the federal government was “lurching from one inhumane and impractical thought to a different” and had “misplaced management and all sense of compassion”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s authorities has mentioned it’s finding out how one can take care of small boats carrying migrants throughout the Channel from France, together with insurance policies utilized in different international locations.
It didn’t touch upon any of the particular proposals reported within the newspapers, however Johnson’s spokesman mentioned he didn’t recognise a number of the concepts, with out elaborating.
The proposals, which newspapers mentioned had been studied by Britain’s Dwelling Workplace, or inside ministry, embody constructing a camp for asylum seekers at Ascension Island, a British abroad territory within the South Atlantic.
The Monetary Instances mentioned officers had sounded out the maritime trade over constructing non permanent “marine fencing” to dam migrant boats within the Channel. The Guardian newspaper reported that Johnson’s workplace was driving the dialogue, and had requested officers to contemplate sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Morocco or Papua New Guinea.
The highest civil servant on the Dwelling Workplace, Matthew Rycroft, who confronted questions from a parliamentary committee, mentioned discussions had taken place “within the realm of the brainstorming stage of a future coverage” however didn’t affirm particular plans.
Immigration has been a sizzling problem for years in Britain, and one of many main drivers of the profitable 2016 referendum marketing campaign to depart the EU. However sending asylum seekers to a distant location could be a giant departure for a European nation.
The nation finest recognized for housing asylum seekers off shore is Australia, which has despatched individuals intercepted at sea to camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea for processing since 2012, a observe condemned by rights teams and the United Nations.
Labour described such proposals for Britain as each absurd and merciless. Meg Hillier, a Labour lawmaker, famous that Ascension Island has no functioning air strip, and mentioned the thought of sending migrants there was “within the realms of cloud cuckoo-land”.
Human rights teams accuse the UK authorities of exaggerating the issue of migration throughout the Channel, to drum up assist. They are saying the numbers reaching Britain by sea, about 5,000 this yr, are tiny in contrast with migrant flows in lots of different locations.
The Instances mentioned different concepts being thought-about included placing asylum seekers on disused ferries or oil rigs moored off the coast, or constructing a processing centre on a Scottish island — a suggestion rejected by Scotland’s devolved authorities.
“They will relaxation assured that any proposal to deal with human beings like cattle in a holding pen will probably be met with the strongest attainable opposition from me,” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon mentioned on Twitter.