Gibraltar And Isle Of Man Reject “Inhumane And Ridiculous” Plans To Host UK Asylum Processing Centres
Both Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have roundly rejected reports they will host proposed new asylum processing centres as part of a shake-up of UK immigration policy.
They say they have not been contacted by the Home Office and are seeking clarification from Priti Patel about the plans, which have been labelled “inhumane” and “ridiculous” by Labour.
Home secretary Priti Patel is due to set out plans next week aimed at preventing migrants trying to make the perilous journey across the English Channel, according to The Times. They are said to include a consultation on changing the law so those seeking asylum in the UK can be sent to processing centres in third countries.
Fabian Picardo, chief minister of Gibraltar, called the proposals which appeared in several newspapers overnight “groundless speculation”, and said asylum processing “is not area on which we believe we can assist the UK”.
The British overseas territory said its own legislation “governs the presence of asylum seekers in Gibraltar, not UK law”, and its new immigration relationship with the EU is why it “would be unable to host the processing of asylum seekers to the United Kingdom”.
Similarly the Isle of Man, which is British Crown dependency, emphasises that is is a “self-governing” nation and also said they have not had discussions with Westminster about asylum processing centres being based on the island.
"The Isle of Man is self-governing, the UK government would not be able to open any sort of processing centre on the island without consent," a spokesperson for the Isle of Man government said.
"The UK government has not contacted the Isle of Man government about any such proposal."
Last year it was reported the Home Office was considering sending people to Ascension Island, more than 4,000 miles away, proposals which drew strong criticism.
In response to today’s reports, Picardo said in a statement from the Gibraltar government: “We will not ever shirk our responsibility to help where we can.
“Our geography makes some things difficult, however, and the processing of asylum seekers to the UK in Gibraltar would be one of them.
“Immigration is an area of my responsibility as Chief Minister under the Gibraltar Constitution and I can confirm that this issue has not been raised with me at any level.
“I would have made clear this is not area on which we believe we can assist the UK.”Labour’s has also hit out at the reported Home Office proposals. “The Tories are lurching from one inhumane, ridiculous proposal to another. Last year they were talking about creating waves in the English Channel to wash boats back and buying ferries and oil rigs to process asylum claims," shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said.
“These absurd ideas show the government has lost control and all sense of compassion. Ministers must act to reopen safe routes, as promised, and deliver the promised agreement with France.”
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael called Patel's proposals "unworkable and inhumane asylum proposals".
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council charity, told The Times: "We know from the Australian model that offshore detention leads to appalling outcomes including high levels of self-harm and mental illness.
"It is an inhumane policy that undermines our nation's proud tradition of providing protection to people fleeing persecution and terror many of whom have gone on to work as doctors and nurses in the NHS.”
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants tweeted that the proposal is “cruel, dangerous, and unworkable”.
They added: “Once again Priti Patel is using refugees as a political football, instead of simply ensuring they have safe and legal routes to rebuild their lives here.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe