Home Secretary 'Deliberately' Allowed Migrant Centre To Become Overcrowded, Says Tory MP

Roger Gale says either Suella Braverman or Priti Patel are to blame for the crisis.
The migrant processing site in Manston, Kent.
The migrant processing site in Manston, Kent.
Gareth Fuller - PA Images via Getty Images

A Tory MP has accused the home secretary of “deliberately” allowing a migrant processing centre to become dangerously overcrowded in a bid to deter more asylum seekers from coming to the UK.

Roger Gale said he believed either Suella Braverman or her predecessor, Priti Patel, were to blame for the worsening situation at the Manston centre in his Kent constituency.

He said the decision had been taken not to book additional hotel rooms for the migrants to stay in while their asylum claims are processed.

A source close to Patel insisted she had signed off on hotel accommodation for asylum seekers until she resigned as home secretary last month as she had a statutory duty to do so.

Labour has called on Braverman to come to the Commons today amid reports that she ignored legal advice that migrants were being kept at the centre for unlawfully long periods.

Gale, the MP for Thanet North, visited the processing centre yesterday with immigration minister Robert Jenrick amid reports that diseases like scabies and diptheria are rife among those staying there.

Asked how he felt about what he saw, Gale told Radio Four’s Today programme: “Hugely depressed because when I last visited in July it was a good facility being very well run, with people being moved through as they were intended to.

“What I saw yesterday, and previously on Thursday, was a deterioration between Thursday and yesterday. The Home Office staff, the civilian staff, the medical staff, are doing a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances.

“But the fact of the matter is it is overwhelmed and it is wholly unacceptable.”

The MP added: “There are simply far too many people there and this situation should never have been allowed to develop, and I’m not sure that it hasn’t almost been developed deliberately.

“I was told that the Home Office was finding it very difficult to secure hotel accommodation. I now understand that this was a policy issue and that a decision was taken not to book additional hotel space.

“Now that’s like driving a car down a motorway, seeing the motorway clear ahead, then there’s a car crash and then suddenly there’s a five mile tailback. The car crash was the decision not to book more hotel space.”

Gale said he “believes” that decision was taken either by Suella Braverman or her predecessor as home secretary, Priti Patel.

Asked what he would say if this policy was being pursued to deter more migrants from coming to the UK, Gale said: “I would say that is wholly unacceptable, as I find the Rwanda policy wholly unacceptable.

“We need a grown up solution to what is a very real problem. People’s lives are being placed in danger crossing the Channel and the situation is becoming out of control.”

The MP added: “I want the problem solved and I want the person who was responsible for causing that problem to be held to account - whether that is the previous home secretary or the current one.”

A source close to Priti Patel told HuffPost UK: “She was always clear that putting asylum seekers in hotels was never desirable, but when she needed to sign them off she did so as she didn’t want to break our statutory duties.

“Also, she couldn’t leave people in accommodation that was not suitable for them - you can’t let people sleep in those conditions.”


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