Priti Patel ‘looked at sending asylum seekers thousands of miles from the UK to tiny volcanic islands in the South Atlantic while their cases were considered’
- Ms Patel abandoned the plan after instructing officials to drill down into logistics
- St Helena island was also touted as a potential site for the processing facility
- Labour said last night: ‘This ludicrous idea is inhumane, completely impractical’
Priti Patel considered building an asylum processing centre on a remote volcanic island in the south Atlantic, it was claimed last night.
Under an extraordinary scheme, the Home Office would ship migrants 4,000 miles from the UK to Ascension Island, a British overseas protectorate.
Ms Patel abandoned the plan after instructing her officials to drill down into the practicalities of such a project, according to the Financial Times.
St Helena, where Napoleon was exiled after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, was also touted as a potential site for the a facility.
The Foreign Office was consulted on the proposals, according to the paper, and provided an assessment on the logistics of shipping migrants to such locations.
Priti Patel (pictured at the FCO last week) considered building an asylum processing centre on a remote volcanic island in the south Atlantic, it was claimed last night
Under an extraordinary scheme, the Home Office would ship asylum seekers 4,000 miles from the UK to Ascension Island (pinpointed), a British overseas protectorate
The Home Office last night did not deny the claims but pointed to Britain’s ‘proud history of offering refuge to those who need protection’.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: ‘This ludicrous idea is inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive. So it seems entirely plausible this Tory Government came up with it.’
Ascension Island, which is used as a staging post to supply and defend the Falkland Islands, has an RAF base and population of fewer than 1,000.
Moving asylum seekers there and keeping them supplied was said to represent a considerable logistical challenge.
The proposal appears to further reflect the influence on UK policy-making of Australia, which has used offshore processing and detention centres for asylum seekers since the 1980s.
The Government has based its post-Brexit points-based immigration system on that developed in Australia.
Ascension Island, which is used as a staging post to supply and defend the Falkland Islands, has an RAF base and population of fewer than 1,000
Ms Patel recently met with former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, known for his tough stance on immigration, who was appointed by Boris Johnson as a trade adviser to the UK.
The Home Secretary is grappling with a surge in migrants crossing the Channel in recent months.
Some 90 hotels are being used by the Home Office to house migrants being processed, including four-star accommodation under a £4billion outsourcing contract.
A Home Office official said: ‘The UK has a long and proud history of offering refuge to those who need protection. Tens of thousands of people have rebuilt their lives in the UK and we will continue to provide safe and legal routes in the future.
‘As ministers have said we are developing plans to reform policies and laws around illegal migration and asylum to ensure we are able to provide protection to those who need it, while preventing abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it.’