Home Secretary Suella Braverman visits Manston amid crisis at migrant processing centre | Politics News


Suella Braverman today visited Manston, the overcrowded immigration centre in Kent that has become a symbol of the “broken” asylum system she is under increasing pressure to fix.

Ms Braverman has been criticised over the conditions at Manston, which is designed to hold 1,600 people for a matter of days but has been used to house around 3,500 people for weeks.

The home secretary met Border Force staff in Dover earlier on Thursday to discuss Channel crossings operations before travelling to the processing centre by military helicopter to speak to staff and receive an update on the overcrowding crisis.

She later left the centre in Manston after spending two hours on site.

A Home Office source said that Ms Braverman held a 45-minute question and answer session with staff at the centre which was “well received”.

The prime minister’s official spokeswoman earlier insisted Ms Braverman had not been banned from the airwaves, as she did not take questions from the media during the visit.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives in a Chinook helicopter for a visit to the Manston immigration short-term holding facility located at the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre in Thanet, Kent. Picture date: Thursday November 3, 2022.
Ms Braverman was flown to the centre in a Chinook helicopter

“She’s on the ground visiting Western Jet Foil and Manston – she’s getting on with the job,” she said.

Chancellor admits there are ‘no easy options’ as interest rates rise again – Politics latest

Downing Street also defended the home secretary’s use of a military helicopter to travel to Manston.

“The home secretary was in Dover to receive an update on operations on the ground. That obviously involved operations in the Channel. She travelled on a military aircraft to see the area of operations at sea,” a Number 10 spokesperson said.

Several hundred people were moved to Manston over the weekend after an attacker threw petrol bombs at the Western Jet Foil processing centre in Dover on Sunday.

Lawyers on behalf of charity Detention Action and a woman held at Manston are threatening legal action against the Home Secretary over the conditions.

The charity said an urgent pre-action letter, sent to the Home Office on Tuesday, represented the first action against Ms Braverman around the “unlawful treatment” of people held at the facility.

Suella Braverman (circled) at the Manston facility
Suella Braverman speaks to staff at the Manston facility

Government minister Graham Stuart conceded earlier in the day that Manston was not operating legally and “none of us are comfortable with it”.

Asked whether he was happy that asylum seekers were being detained illegally, he told Sky News: “Obviously not. None of us are comfortable with it. We want it tackled, we want to get a grip, that’s exactly what the home secretary is focused on.”

Hundreds of people have been removed from Manston in recent days, with immigration minister Robert Jenrick expressing hope that it will return to being “legally compliant” soon.

Children are among those held at the centre
Home Secretary Suella Braverman listens to Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper's response to her statement in the House of Commons, London, where she faced questions about the problems with conditions at migrant holding facilities in Manston, Kent. Picture date: Monday October 31, 2022.
Ms Braverman was questioned about the Manston crisis by MPs for nearly two hours on Monday

He revealed to Sky News that the Home Office is facing a judicial review over the situation, but insisted that was “not unusual”.

The grim conditions at Manston were laid bare in a letter thrown by a young girl over the perimeter fence to a PA news agency photographer on Wednesday begging for help and comparing it to a “prison”.

The government found itself under further criticism last night after a group of asylum seekers was reportedly left at Victoria station in London without accommodation after being moved from Manston.

More Rwanda-style deals planned

Ms Braverman’s visit came after council chiefs across Kent warned the whole county is at “breaking point”, with concerns of far-right violence fuelled by the failure to control the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats.

The PM’s spokeswoman did not deny reports that the government is trying to negotiate Rwanda-style deportation deals with countries such as Belize, Peru and Paraguay to reduce pressure on the system.

“We do plan to negotiate similar deals with other countries, akin to the Rwanda partnership, but it’s not helpful for us to comment on speculation around potential discussions,” she said.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

No one is ‘comfortable’ with the situation at Manston

The contentious Rwanda deal has been delayed by a number of legal challenges but Ms Braverman is talking to at least three other countries about extending the locations in which asylum seekers could be deported to, according to the Daily Express.

Responding to the report, Eamon Courtenay, the foreign minister of Belize, tweeted that his country “is not in negotiations with the UK or any other country to accept migrants”.

He added: “We will not agree to accept exported migrants. That is inhumane and contrary to international law.”

The government has come under mounting criticism for the chaos in the asylum system, as the Home Office grapples with a backlog of 100,000 claims and record numbers of people continue to cross the Channel.

Ms Braverman has admitted the system is “broken” and singled Albanians out several times over the past week when discussing the rise in small boat crossings, which she referred to as an “invasion on our southern coast”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

What is the Manston controversy?

On Wednesday, Edi Rama, the Albanian prime minister, accused Britain of becoming like a “madhouse” with a culture of “finding scapegoats” during a migration crisis in which “failed policies” are to blame.

Four parliamentary committee chiefs piled further pressure on the home secretary to explain how the government will get a grip on both the situation at Manston and the migrant crisis in general.

In a joint letter to Ms Braverman, the chairs of the Home Affairs Committee, Justice Committee, Joint Committee on Human Rights and Women and Equalities Committee expressed their “deep concerns” over the “dire” conditions at Manston, asking what will be done to address the current situation and avoid overcrowding in future.

Read more:
‘Get a grip’: Starmer blames Tories for ‘broken’ asylum system
Minister rejects Braverman’s ‘invasion’ claim and says ‘I would never demonise people’

Kent ‘at breaking point’

Council chiefs in Kent have also written to the home secretary, urging her to stop using the county as an “easy fix”, and have warned they are under “disproportionate pressure” because of Kent’s location.

There are no more school spaces for local children in Year 7 and Year 9 due to the arrival of young refugees, they said.

Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, has described the migrant crisis as a “serious and escalating problem” and admitted that “not enough” asylum claims are being processed, but insisted the government is getting a grip on the situation.

Labour has accused the government of “losing control of our borders” and said 12 years of Tory leadership is to blame for the “broken system”.


Source link