UK Considering Floating Asylum Centres in Old Ferries, Sending Migrants to Remote Islands: Reports

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The British government is said to be considering off-shore asylum centres on old ferries, or even sending claimants to remote islands in the South Atlantic.

The government is reportedly considering turning retired ferries into floating asylum centres off of the British coast to hold would-be refugees until their claims are assessed, according to documents seen by The Times.

The newspaper of record has also been told the government was considering putting asylum seekers out in the North Sea on disused oil platforms, but ministers reportedly considered that option a “no go”. Putting migrants on ships, however, was considered the more realistic option.

Downing Street is also said to be brainstorming sending migrants to Moldova, Morocco, and Papua New Guinea, according to documents seen by The Guardian; however, those proposals had all been dismissed due to logistical issues or regional political instability.

The South Atlantic islands Ascension and St Helena, which are British overseas territories, are also options, according to leaked documents seen by the Financial Times. Housing migrants far from the United Kingdom, again, is reportedly considered less favourable options due to the cost and legal ramifications.

The latter options are similar to those in force in Australia, where migrants are housed in Pacific Ocean islands until an asylum decision is made. Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose government implemented a strict policy of turning migrant boats back and processing claims off-shore, reportedly recently met with Home Secretary Priti Patel. The measures would go further than Australia — which intercepts migrants before they reach the antipodean nation — by relocating migrants to the reception centres after they have already landed on British soil.

The Home Office’s top civil servant, Matthew Rycroft, would not comment on the individual leaks, but told the Commons Public Accounts Committee on Thursday that while “no decision has been taken” on whether disused ferries would become floating asylum centres, “everything is on the table” when improving the UK’s asylum system.

Mr Rycroft said: “We’ve been looking at what a whole host of other countries do in order to bring innovation into our own system.

“No final proposals have been put to ministers or to anyone else.”

A Friday report noted the repeated leaks on the various designs and plans for illegal migrants were the visible ripples in the water being caused by a “war” between Patel and the Foreign Office, with accusations made that civil servants were deliberately leaking “bizarre and unworkable” schemes in order to undermine the Tory politician. The Times reported the remarks of an unnamed Conservative MP who said of the ongoing spat being played out in the pages of the nation’s newspapers:

“It’s pretty obvious what’s happened here. By coming up with bizarre and unworkable policy options, then leaking them, the Foreign Office is attempting to discredit any and every solution to a problem which my constituents write to me about daily.

“The Foreign Office’s idea of a crisis is receiving a strongly worded letter from a wacky UN special rapporteur.”

At least 7,000 illegals have crossed the English Channel in boats from France to the UK since the beginning of this year, with September alone eclipsing arrivals for the whole of 2019. Home Secretary Priti Patel is coming under increased pressure over her failure to stop the boats, with illegal aliens arriving at such a level that two former military bases and reportedly some 90 hotels are being used to house them.

Conservative MP for Gravesham Adam Holloway said the Home Office was “completely right” to be considering such options which would work as “some sort of deterrent” to illegals wishing to come to the UK to seek asylum.

“We need to break the link in people’s minds that if you get to Britain, you’re going to stay in Britain, you’re going to stay in a hotel, and you’re going to be accommodated,” Mr Holloway told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is also considering post-Brexit legal changes where migrants who enter the UK via Europe will have their claims rejected.

“If you come through the EU, an asylum claim would be inadmissible because you should have claimed it in the first country you entered,” a source told The Telegraph on Wednesday.

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