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UK plans for offshore asylum processing leaked

14 October 20200 comments

Britain’s Conservative government has faced an angry backlash after the leaking of plans to house asylum seekers on remote islands, decommissioned ferries or even oil rigs.

The plan emerged to take asylum seekers who cross the English Channel in small boats send them to Ascension Island, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The UK has not categorically ruled out the idea yesterday despite widespread criticism.

Also among the plans was housing asylum seekers on disused North Sea oil rigs while claims are processed.

According to The Times newspaper, The UK Government is also considering buying retired ferries and converting the vessels into processing centres to house asylum seekers.

Other plans reported by the Guardian newspaper say they could even be held in Moldova and Papua New Guinea.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported officials discussed laying booms or net barriers in the English Channel to stop small boats reaching the shore.

A similar plan would have placed boats in the Channel with pumps, generating waves that would force dinghies back into French waters but the idea was supposedly abandoned due to the risk of the boats capsizing.

The Labour Party’s Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the litany of leaked plans were “unconscionable” and “appalling” and were a reminder of the Windrush affair.

In 2018, the UK Government was rocked by The Windrush scandal in which people were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in dozens of cases, wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office,

Many of those affected had been born British subjects and had arrived in the UK before 1973, particularly from Caribbean countries as members of the ‘Windrush generation’, named after the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought one of the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948.

As well as those who were deported, an unknown number were detained, lost their jobs or homes, or were denied benefits or medical care to which they were entitled.

A spokesman for Britain’s Home Office said: “We are developing plans to reform our illegal migration and asylum policies so we can keep providing protection to those who need it while preventing abuse of the system and criminality which, as we have seen with the rise in gang-facilitated Channel crossings, is a problem.

“As part of that work, we have been looking at what a whole host of other countries do to inform a plan for the UK. That work is ongoing.”

Today the PM’s official spokesman refused to rule out any of the leaked plans.

The reports come amid mounting criticism of ministers over the unprecedented numbers of potential refugees reaching UK shores after making the perilous journey through the Dover Strait – the world’s busiest shipping lane.

More than 6,000 have arrived this year.