Rishi Sunak backs migrant housing in army barracks in his constituency

Braverman slams 'out of touch lefties' for migrant criticism

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has told the House of Commons that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is “showing leadership” on the issue of finding accommodation for thousands of new migrant arrivals, by personally “bringing forward proposals to provide accommodation in Catterick Garrison barracks in his constituency”.

Catterick Garrison is an army base just outside the North Yorkshire market town of Richmond. 

Robert Jenrick delivered a speech to the Commons giving an update on the Government’s illegal migration programme. 

He told MPs, “We said we would act – and we have”. 

Mr Jenrick cited the increase in Immigration Enforcement visits to their “highest levels in recent years”, the new Angle-French partnership and the expanded partnership with Rwanda. 

He set out that from next week the UK will resume data sharing with banks to stop illegal migrants opening bank accounts, making it “harder to live and work in the UK illegally”. 

He added, however, that we “cannot and will not stop there”. 

Mr Jenrick confirmed reports overnight that the Government is now looking at housing migrants on “vessels”, citing Scotland and the Netherlands as countries who have also used this as an option for dealing with numbers. 

“We continue exploring the possibility of accommodating migrants in vessels as in Scotland and the Netherlands.”

The top Home Office minister was clear that using re-purposed barrack blocks, portacabins and floating vessels “on their own will not end the use of hotels”. 

“But alongside local dispersal and other forms of accommodation we will bring forward in due course they will relieve pressure on communities and manage asylum seekers in a more appropriate and cost-effective way.”

Despite Dominic Raab telling the media this morning that using boats to house migrants may be necessary to stop spending £6 million a day on hotel rooms, a leaked document published by Bloomberg this lunchtime revealed the Home Office previously turned down the vessels policy as it could end up costing more than housing migrants in hotels. 

Leaked documents show Whitehall mandarins anticipated costs of £100,000s-an-hour to moor ships to house migrants, and warned the cost could even surpass that of the current £6 million-a-day for hotels.

Mr Jenrick warned that Britain “cannot risk becoming a magnet for the millions of people who are displaced and seeking better economic prospects”, and added many of our European partners are struggling with the same migrant crisis, including Belgium, Ireland, German and France.

He told the chamber of MPs that “inaction is not an option”. 

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Immediately responding to the announcement, Tory grandee Sir Edward Leigh reacted with fury to Mr Jenrick’s plans to house migrants in RAF Stanton.

He told the minister his council would launch an immediate legal challenge of the decision, promising that “Lincolnshire will fight” and win against the plans.

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel asked why the government was planning to house migrants in an RAF base next to her constituency despite cancelling a similar plan for migrant housing in Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire. 

Mr Jenrick said the sites he has announced today are just the first set of locations being taken forward, implying more military bases will be set to house migrants in the coming months and years.

The Catterick Garrison barracks, just 30 minutes from Mr Sunak’s North Yorkshire mansion, is the largest British Army barracks in the world.

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