Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

The Channel migrant hotel crisis cannot continue to make the UK a “laughing stock”, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has warned.

Mr Jenrick, revealing the first 50 hotels used for asylum seekers will be closed by January, said the crossings are “illegal, dangerous and unfair”.

Some migrants will be moved out within days, with ministers set to cancel another 50 contracts by March.

Mr Jenrick said the signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Council would be “appalled” by some of the abuses of the rights.

He said of hotels being used to house migrants: “It is not right that somebody who might have been sleeping in a camp in northern France comes across in a small boat and finds himself in a Holiday Inn in Oxford.

“That makes the UK into a laughing stock. We had to change that.”

The Home Office is spending £8million per day on 400 hotels for around 50,500 migrants.

The first contracts to be terminated will be four-star hotels which have included country homes.

Migrants will be moved to larger sites, including former RAF bases – RAF Wethersfield in Essex and RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire – and the Bibby Stockholm barge.

Government sources said ministers have been able to begin cancelling hotel contracts because crossings are down by around 30%.

Some 26,553 asylum seekers have crossed so far this year, down from almost 38,000 this time last year.

Mr Jenrick told MPs yesterday that 50 asylum seekers are now staying on the Government’s first asylum barge, the Bibby Stockholm.

More are expected to go this week, the Daily Express understands.

And forcing migrants to share hotel rooms has “avoided the need” for the Home Office to shell out on another 72 venues, the minister said. He told MPs: “I can inform the House that today the Home Office wrote to local authorities and MPs to inform them that we will now be exiting the first asylum hotels.

“The first 50 of these exits will begin in the coming days and will be complete by the end of January.”

He confirmed that a hotel in Knowsley, Merseyside, which was targeted in an horrific protest, is among those in the first tranche to be closed.

A police van was set on fire and missiles were thrown at officers after a far-right demo, with terrified asylum seekers trapped inside.

Tory MPs have praised the exit plan. Senior backbencher Bernard Jenkin told the Daily Express: “The Government has succeeded in cutting the number of boat crossings by a fifth compared to the equivalent period in 2022. They are also speeding up the processing of asylum applications.

“It is a democratic imperative that illegal crossings are brought under control and eventually stopped.”

Mr Jenrick also took aim at the “myth” that crossings are down “because of the weather”. He told MPs: “The weather conditions this year were more favourable to small boat crossings than 2022, and yet we’ve still seen a decrease.

“By contrast, in the year to June 2023, detections of irregular border crossings at the external borders of Europe increased by a third and irregular arrivals to Italy across the Mediterranean have almost doubled.

“We remain confident in the legality of our Rwanda partnership and its ability to break the business model of the people-smuggling gangs once and for all and we look forward to the judgment of the Supreme Court.”

Mr Jenrick told MPs the £480million deal signed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron has “elevated our cooperation to unprecedented levels”.

“This is degrading the organised crime groups, and in the last few weeks, new physical barriers have been installed to make it considerably harder for these flimsy dinghies to launch”, he said. French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing for a showdown with the European Court of Human Rights in a bid to expel “dangerous” migrants.

Macron’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, warned that France will remove foreigners deemed a threat before approval from the European Court of Human Rights has heard their appeals.

And Paris is willing to pay fines if they have violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

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