Controversy Over Barge
Monday saw the very first asylum seekers board the Bibby Stockholm barge, which is moored in Portland, Dorset.
The barge, which allegedly has a capacity of 500 people, has been met with criticism and scorn from a range of politicians and organisations.
Among these have been the Fire Brigades Union, which deemed the vessel to be “a deathtrap”, citing key health and safety concerns.
The refugee charity Care4Calais has also condemned the use of the barge to host potentially vulnerable and traumatised asylum seekers, deeming it “unbelievably cruel” that asylum seekers are being placed in a “quasi floating prison”.
Justifications From Parliament
Meanwhile, the Conservative party have justified the use of the barge, claiming that it is a more cost-effective and manageable solution than previous methods to house asylum seekers.
The government had reportedly spent around £1.9 billion on housing asylum seekers in hotels in the year 2022 alone.
The minister for safeguarding, Sarah Dines, told press that the government are “looking at everything” when considering how to house asylum seekers.
This includes barges such as the Bibby Stockholm and also potentially former military bases.
There are also rumoured plans to send asylum seekers to Ascension Island, a small Atlantic island around 1,000 miles off the coast of Africa. However, these plans are yet to be officially confirmed by the government.
Anti-Migrant Sentiments From Conservative Deputy Chairman
News of asylum seekers boarding the Bibby Stockholm barge also came amidst highly contentious comments from the Conservative Party Deputy Chairman, Lee Anderson.
In an interview with the Daily Express, Anderson stated that “if they [asylum seekers] don’t like barges, then they should f*** off back to France”.
The comment was met with swift condemnation from politicians, with Labour MP Diane Abbott deeming it “a new low, even for the Tories”.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, stated in a Tweet that: “Language matters. This lot have been in Government for 13 years. After their abject failure all that’s left is stoking up more division and hate. We deserve so much better.”
Last modified on August 9th, 2023 at 7:36 am
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