Migrant crisis: Patrick O’Flynn reacts to a leaked memo
A leaked memo from the Home Office has given rise to suggestions Rishi Sunak’s 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”.
All three of the emergency accommodation sites, in Essex, Lincolnshire and East Sussex, have proved incredibly controversial among local MPs and residents.
Former Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel has led Tory backlash against plans to house migrants at RAF Wethersfield in Essex, near her Witham constituency, saying it’s not a suitable location due to a lack of infrastructure and amenities.
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Fellow Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh has similarly voiced outrage at plans to house hundreds of migrants at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, saying the plan is more serious than sending them to hotels.
The MP said the move risks “ruining” a £300million investment deal for the site, which promised to create thousands of jobs and invest in aerospace and aviation technology.
The RAF also applied for planning permission to move the grave of a dog which was a mascot to the famous WW2 Dambusters from Scampton, a move which caused mass opposition.
Sir Edward told the press: “History is vital and this dog’s history is linked inexplicably to this base. We are saying not over our dead body, we want a future for this site and we will fight for it.”
Between them, RAF Wethersfield and Scampton have been earmarked to house 3,700 migrants.
Former prison HMP Northeye in Bexhill also plans to take on 1,000 asylum seekers.
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The accommodation rows come as the Government struggles to house the relentless flow of migrants travelling across the Channel in small boats.
British taxpayers are currently forking out £6million-a-day in hotel accommodation for migrants, with 51,000 asylum seekers in nearly 400 hotels.
Ministers had only publicly admitted the three sites would be used for up to one year in planning applications but had refused to disclose future plans for the sites beyond that.
The memo, published in full by The Telegraph, was sent on March 24 this year, setting out the “value for money” argument compared to housing migrants in hotels.
The civil servant said they were satisfied with the value for money offered by Bexhill, Wethersfield and Scampton.
They said: “On the former two we are saying there is [value for money] across the five years planned for the sites (Bexhill would potentially be used for longer.
“On Scampton, our recommendation (with [Home Secretary]) is to use the site for three years rather than two.”
The memo suggests that RAF Scampton would not be value for money if used for just two years.
It also suggests that the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset will only be value for money if used to house 1,000 migrants, rather than the currently planned 500.
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