Priti Patel suggests Wethersfield is not a suitable location to house migrants
Dame Priti Patel has slammed the Home Office after it emerged they plan on using two former RAF bases – one near her constituency – to house migrants for up to half a decade.
The former Home Secretary, who has campaigned vigorously against plans to house thousands of migrants at RAF Wethersfield in Essex, said Tory ministers have been “evasive” over their true plans.
Dame Priti says the department “bypassed” typical planning application rules, claiming the site would be temporary, and for “emergency use only”.
She said: “Now we see they’ve been planning to use the site for five years.”
She blasted that “this is unacceptable”, and said “the lack of clarity has been alarming and staggering”.
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In an excoriating letter to Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick, Dame Priti says “no clarity” had been provided to her about the length of time that the Home Office expected to use the site for the purpose of housing migrants, despite multiple questions in Parliament and letters to the Secretary of State.
She said: “The lack of a direct response to my questions relating to the length of time the Home Office plans to use the site for asylum accommodation gives the impression that the Home Office is being evasive.”
She said that the Government’s public information regarding the three sites, including in Essex, has been “ineffective”, and made continuous references to the site being “temporary”.
Dame Priti said that the revelations this morning, forced out by a leak to the Telegraph, compared to their public statements, “suggests that the Government is being secretive about its intentions”.
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Ms Braverman’s predecessor demanded answers to four key questions, namely:
- How long does the Government plan on using the RAF base as a migrant camp?
- What does the Government’s financial modelling for the use of the site say?
- What will the average cost-per-bed be at RAF Wethersfield?
- What approach will the Government take to planning for the site?
She demanded that clear answers are now given, and the Government “must be transparent rather than evasive”.
A leaked internal memo revealed this morning gave rise to suggestions that the Government anticipates the migrant crisis continuing for around half a decade, with emergency accommodation planning being put in place for five years.
The internal document from the Home Office states the Government plans on using disused RAF bases and a prison in Bexhill for three to five years, and possibly longer.
Former MEP Patrick O’Flynn said the memo “seems like an acknowledgement that we’re going to be having tens of thousands of arrivals for half a decade to come”.
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