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Labour could use migrant barges while asylum backlog is tackled

17 Jul 2023 2 minute read
Photo issued by Bibby Marine Ltd of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge

Barges and disused military bases could be used by a Labour Government to house asylum seekers while the backlog in cases is being cleared, the shadow home secretary has indicated.

Yvette Cooper on Monday declined to commit to immediately closing the facilities, which have been criticised by refugee groups, if her party seizes power at the next general election.

Instead she said it would work to “rapidly clear” the decisions backlog that has spiralled under the Government before reverting to traditional asylum accommodation.

Ms Cooper’s comments came as the Bibby Stockholm barge resumed its delayed journey to Portland Port, in Dorset, where it will house around 500 asylum seekers.

She made it clear she thinks the Government’s “failure” to deal with the asylum system may be further “increasing the backlog”, which hit a record high of more than 172,000 cases.


Pressed after a speech in central London by reporters if she would immediately end the use of barges and military bases to hold migrants, Ms Cooper said: “We will take action to clear the backlog.

“We’ll have to address what we inherit at that time because at the moment it is so chaotic what the Government is doing.”

She added: “What we want to see is the backlog cleared so that the Government doesn’t need to use the hotels or other alternatives and we can simply focus on the long-standing asylum accommodation that has always been there.”

Bibby Stockholm was a month behind schedule as it left Falmouth, Cornwall, where it was undergoing work to house migrants in Dorset, despite local opposition.

The use of RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and the Wethersfield base in Essex also face legal action.

Later on Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman will come under further pressure to change their plans to “stop the boats”.

MPs will be considering amendments to the Illegal Migration Bill proposed by the House of Lords to limit the detention of children and add modern slavery protections.

Peers have inflicted a string of defeats on the much-criticised legislation during a parliamentary “ping-pong” tussle over the Bill until agreement is reached.

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8 months ago

Is this the same Yvette Cooper who stated in public how she would offer a home to child refugees but when asked how it was going , said she had not received the necessary training? How can anything this “minister” says be taken seriously?

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