Four military bases will be used ‘for several thousand’ asylum seekers including one in PM’s constituency
The government has announced that “thousands” of asylum seekers will be housed in four military bases, including one in the prime minister’s own constituency.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick confirmed plans to house migrants at former RAF sites in Essex and Lincolnshire, as well as announcing two new sites in East Sussex and Yorkshire.
The latter, Catterick Garrison Barracks, is in Rishi Sunak’s Richmond constituency.
Mr Jenrick said: “The prime minister is showing leadership on this issue by bringing forward proposals to provide accommodation at Catterick Garrison Barracks in his constituency, and we’re continuing to explore the possibility of accommodating migrants in vessels as they are in Scotland and in the Netherlands.”
The plans are aimed at reducing the £6.8m a day the government says it spends on hotel accommodation while acting as a deterrent to prevent Channel crossings.
However, a refugee charity said the proposed accommodation is “entirely unsuitable” to house people who have fled war, while two Conservative-led councils in the areas are threatening legal action.
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Ahead of Mr Jenrick’s announcement, Braintree District Council said it is planning to “imminently” apply for a High Court injunction to challenge the use of the Wethersfield airbase in Essex, amid concerns over the “isolated” location and impact on local services.
And West Lindsey District Council said they are considering “all options” including High Court litigation over the use of RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire – which could see the scrapping of a £300m deal aimed at turning the base into a heritage site.
Earlier on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News that the government will also “look at” putting migrants and asylum seekers on barges while their claims are processed.
Asked if such a policy would be illegal – as some suggested when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously floated it – Mr Raab said: “I don’t think it would be illegal, it depends on the circumstances, the conditions.”
But sources downplayed the likelihood of this happening imminently, saying none had been purchased yet.