Two More Barges Will Be Used To House Asylum Seekers, Rishi Sunak Says

The giant vessels have been likened to 18th century prisons.
The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Falmouth docks in Cornwall.
The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Falmouth docks in Cornwall.
Matt Keeble - PA Images via Getty Images

Two more barges will be used to house asylum seekers who come to the UK, Rishi Sunak has announced.

The giant vessels - which have been compared to 18th century prisons - will provide accommodation for around 1,000 people.

Ministers have previously come under fire over the decision to put hundreds of asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm barge docked on the Dorset coast.

But speaking in Kent this morning, the prime minister confirmed that more barges were on the way.

And he also revealed that migrants will also be forced to share hotel rooms as the government tries to slash the cost of putting them up.

He said: “I say to those migrants who are objecting, this is more than fair.

“If you’re coming here illegally claiming sanctuary from death, torture or persecution, then you should be willing to share a taxpayer-funded hotel room in central London.

“To reduce pressures on local communities we will also house people on ships. The first will arrive in Portland in the next fortnight and we’ve secured another two today.”

The Bibby Stockholm will be docked at Portland Port and house more than 500 migrants in its 222 bedrooms at a cost of £20,000 a day.

Local Tory MP Richard Drax said the barge was being “dumped on our door” without consultation by the Home Office and urged the government to scrap the move.

Sunak announced the two new barges as he insisted the government was making progress on his pledge to “stop the boats” carrying asylum seekers across the Channel from France.

He said: “In the five months since I launched the plan, crossings are now down 20% compared to last year.

“This is the first time since this problem began that arrivals between January and May have fallen compared to the year before.”

The PM was speaking as the government’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill returns to the House of Lords.

The legislation is aimed at making it easier to deport illegal immigrants and ban them from ever returning to the UK.

In a Lords debate on the bill last month, the Archbishop of Canterbury described it as “morally unacceptable”.


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