Sir David Davis comments on revolt over Home Office plans to offshore asylum seekers


As published by The Daily Telegraph:

As many as 50 Conservative MPs will next week try to force the Home Office to drop plans to process asylum seekers’ claims outside of the UK.

David Davis and Andrew Mitchell, former Conservative Cabinet ministers, are leading a group hoping to stop the Government overturning amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill, passed in the House of Lords.

Ministers have pledged to overturn the amendments, tabled by Lord Kirkhope, a former Tory minister, which will halt the Home Office’s plans.

More than 50 Tory MPs are said to be ready to rebel, sources told The Telegraph – enough to overturn the Government’s majority.

A “Dear Colleague” letter sent to all Conservative MPs by Mr Mitchell said that the Government’s plans would be “a moral, financial and practical failure”.

Mr Mitchell told the MPs that ministers want to house asylum seekers on Ascension Island “over 4,000 miles away with no direct flights, an inadequate airport and no infrastructure”.

He added: “We would effectively have to build a British Guantanamo Bay and use RAF planes.”

Mr Mitchell added that the expense would be “eye-watering” and cost “£2 million per person, per year”. He added: “If we were to place asylum seekers at the Ritz Hotel it would only cost £250,000 a year.”

Mr Mitchell also asked MPs to back a second Lords amendment “to create a statutory resettlement scheme, which can be flexed in response to crises” and create a target of accepting 10,000 refugees a year.

Mr Mitchell told The Telegraph: “Many of my colleagues are deeply uncomfortable about the Government’s proposals.”

Mr Davis added: “Offshore processing of asylum seekers was a terrible idea before the invasion of Ukraine but now it looks like a ridiculous policy. It’s expensive, impractical but above all immoral.”

Senior sources at the Home Office said they were confident they could see off the challenge and questioned suggestions that as many as 50 Tories might rebel.

They denied claims that asylum seekers will be housed on Ascension Island and questioned Mr Mitchell’s costs’ estimate.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our Nationality and Borders Bill, part of the New Plan for Immigration, will fix our broken asylum system so we prevent people from making dangerous journeys to the UK and protect those in need through safe and legal routes.

“We are committed to working closely with international partners to fix our broken asylum system, so we can free up vital resources to protect the most vulnerable.

“The Lords’ votes on the Nationality and Borders Bill are disappointing, but we will not be deterred from delivering what the people of this country voted for.”