Labour’s Yvette Cooper has grilled immigration minister today on various reported government proposals related to asylum seekers, including plans to put in place giant wave machines to deter Channel crossings.
The home affairs select committee chair asked Chris Philp: “Can you just confirm that you are no longer looking at sending asylum seekers to the Ascension Island?”
She was referring to reports from September that the government had considered building an asylum processing centre on a remote territory in the Atlantic Ocean, more than 4,000 miles from the UK.
Philp replied: “The Home Office has considered a wide range… of options. I don’t want to give any definitive commentary on what we have and haven’t thought about, or rule in or out what steps may be taken in the future.
“Oh, seriously?” Cooper, the Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, asked in response. “You’re seriously not going to rule out sending asylum seekers to the Ascension Island to be processed?”
The Tory MP said: “Well, we have no current plans to do that, but I’m not going to…” Cooper raised another reported proposal, asking: “What about, can you rule out putting people on disused oil platforms?”
“We don’t have any current plans to put people on oil platforms, no. But I’m not going to go through a whole list of hypotheticals,” Philp replied.
Asked about suggestions of “boats with pumps generating waves that would force boats back into French waters” and “giant wave machines in the Channel”, the immigration minister would only say that these are not “current plans”.
The minister for immigration compliance and the courts was being questioned as part of the home affairs committee inquiry into Channel crossings, migration and asylum-seeking routes through the European Union.
Here is the Immigration Minister chuckling to himself about Home Office proposals to put asylum seekers on an island and use giant wave machines.
— Minnie Rahman (@minnierahman) December 2, 2020