Suella Braverman voices concerns about migrants in hotels
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The Home Secretary said some migrants are being placed in four-star hotels costing an average of £150 per night, leaving the taxpayer with a daily bill of £6.8million.
She said: “British people have had enough of our out of control border system.”
The minister also prompted uproar in the chamber when she described the numbers arriving in the UK after crossing the Channel as an “invasion on our southern coast”.
She added: “Let’s stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress. I am utterly serious about ending the scourge of illegal migration and I am determined to do whatever it takes to break the criminal gangs and fix our hopelessly lax asylum system.
“That is why I am in Government and that is why there are some people who would prefer to be rid of me.”
Launching a robust defence of her department’s handling of asylum claims and the growing backlog of cases, Ms Braverman said the Government has a “duty” to “ensure anyone who has entered illegally undergoes essential security checks”.
She insisted in a fiery debate that she did not block emergency accommodation for migrants, with over 4,000 now stuck at a processing facility at Manston.
Cases of diphtheria have been reported at the former RAF base, with campaigners warning migrants have been left sleeping on the floor.
Ms Braverman said she had not blocked the procurement of more hotel rooms or ignored civil serants’ legal advice.
She said: “Some 40,000 people have arrived on the south coast this year alone, many of them facilitated by criminal gangs, some of them actual members of criminal gangs.
“So let’s stop pretending they are all refugees in distress. The whole country knows that is not true. It’s only the honourable members opposite who pretend otherwise.
“We need to be straight with the public. The system is broken. Illegal migration is out of control and too many people are interested in playing political parlour games, covering up the truth than solving the problem.
“It is not the case that these are all refugees, fleeing persecution or war-torn countries or conflict. Many of the people here arriving on small boats are willingly procuring those journeys. They are coming here knowingly and willingly and they are coming here for economic reasons.”
The Home Secretary was heckled by Labour MPs, before adding: “I know I speak for the decent, law-abiding, patriotic majority of British people from every background that wants safe and secure borders.”
Ms Braverman said that since she was appointed the first time on September 6 the Home Office has signed deals with over 30 hotels to provide 4,500 beds for migrants. But she warned there are currently 35,000 migrants living in hotel rooms “at exorbitant costs” to the taxpayer.
Ms Braverman said she ordered an “urgent review” and is now understood to be seeking land for new asylum processing centres. The Daily Express understands the Home Office under Priti Patel asked the Treasury for £200million to build three specialist venues.
But this was rejected by the then Chancellor Rishi Sunak over costs, sources claim. The Home Office and Treasury refused to confirm if ministers were now seeking a similar sum of cash for reception centres. Ms Braverman said: “At every point I have worked hard to find alternative accommodation to relieve the pressure at Manston.
“What I have refused to do is to prematurely release thousands of people into local communities without having anywhere for them to stay. That is not just the wrong thing to do, that would be the worst thing to do.”
Sir Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet, where Manston is located, said the situation at the centre was “wholly unacceptable” and suggested it may have been “developed deliberately”.
He added: “I was told the Home Office was finding it very difficult to secure hotel accommodation. I now understand this was a policy issue and that a decision was taken not to book additional hotel space.”
But Ms Braverman denied blocking the booking of hotel rooms, insisting the system had effectively been overwhelmed. She said: “It is practically impossible to procure over a thousand beds at short notice.”
As the crisis at Manston intensifies, the Home Secretary warned a Labour MP against using “inflammatory language”. York Central MP Rachael Maskell urged ministers to “open up a homes for refugees scheme”, adding: “Conditions at Manston are clearly unsafe and inhumane.”
Ms Braverman replied: “I don’t want us to create alarm unnecessarily, so I do gently urge her not to use inflammatory language.”
The minister added: “We are aware for example of a very small number of cases of diphtheria, but there are very good medical facilities, all protocols have been followed.”
Earlier shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper questioned how the public could have confidence in the Home Secretary when she reportedly ignored legal advice on her duty to house migrants and broke ministerial rules on handling official documents.
In a lengthy statement to MPs, Ms Braverman said she sent official documents from her government email address to her personal account on six occasions, insisting there was “no risk to national security”.
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