The British Government has presented this Wednesday a controversial plan to house “several thousand” asylum seekers in former military bases in the United Kingdom instead of hotels as is the case now. This was announced by the British Secretary of State for Immigration, Robert Jenrickin a statement before the House of Commons, where he has revealed that he “continues to explore the possibility” of also using boats as places of temporary accommodation for migrants who enter the country irregularly by crossing the English Channel in small boats. These barges – which are often used for offshore construction projects – have basic facilities. It is not clear how issues such as the safety of people on board would be dealt with, although a government source told The Times: “It is a fight we are prepared to have.”
In his speech, Jenrick argued that “the well-being of illegal migrants should not be raised above that of the British” while recalling that “the enormous number of boats has overwhelmed” the country’s asylum system “and forced the government to place asylum seekers in hotels.” “These hotels take valuable assets from communities and put pressure on local public services,” she said.
With these measures the Government tries to reduce the current cost of 6.2 million pounds (7.04 million euros) daily that invests in housing illegal immigrants in hotels in the country.
Immigration is one of the big concerns for conservative voters. Facing the general elections scheduled for next year, the Executive is presenting great measures in this regard. But all of them are involved in controversy.
The Minister of the Interior, Suella Braverman, has recognized that there is a risk that the new regulations that are being prepared on asylum may be incompatible with the Human Rights Law. The aim is to prohibit all those who arrive via irregular routes from being able to claim asylum, sending them back to their countries of origin, Rwanda or another “safe destination” and banning them for life from entering the UK or the possibility of claiming British citizenship. . The only ones who will be exempt will be those under 18 years of age and sick people.
Pragmatism and restraint had been the pillars on which Rishi Sunak had built his tenure since moving to Downing Street last autumn. However, in terms of immigration, he is willing to impose a doctrine even tougher than that of his predecessors in the face of the great crisis that is taking place in the English Channel. Last year, more than 45,000 people came to the shores British by this route compared to the 280 that did so in 2018, the date on which the records began.
Compared with other European countries, it might seem like a not excessive figure. In Spain, without going any further, in 2018 the number of people who reached the national territory irregularly was a record 64,300. But the problem in the United Kingdom is that they are figures loaded with political symbolism. The great promise of Brexit was precisely that of “regaining control of the borders”, so the images of small boats reaching the beaches are a real humiliation for the ‘Tories’. 87% of the electorate considers that the Government is not managing the situation well. Hence, one year before the general elections, Sunak is now betting on drastic plans.