Wirral MPs have condemned Home Office plans to house refugees on a vessel on the River Mersey as “inhumane and unworkable”.
In a joint statement, Mick Whitley, Angela Eagle, and Margaret Greenwood said, “We owe a duty of care towards those who come to the UK fleeing conflict and persecution.
“Instead, this government is abandoning its responsibilities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people claiming asylum in the UK. Government policy is now being driven by a sense of wanton cruelty without any intention of trying to secure positive outcomes for those involved.”
It is understood that the Home Office first informed Wirral Council that the Mersey was being considered as a location to house refugees on Friday (13 April 2023).
The MPs criticised Ministers for having failed to consult with the council when developing these plans and said that it reflected a “culture of incompetence” within the Home Office.
The number of people waiting to have their initial asylum claims processed soared to 161,000 in December 2022, meaning that the UK now has the second-largest asylum backlog in Europe – despite receiving fewer asylum seekers than many comparably sized countries. Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused the Government of having “broken” the asylum system.
The statement expresses concern that the vessel would be located in an area of the borough without adequate transport links and that the refugees would therefore be “stranded on what amounts to a prison ship.” It also warns that local services, including healthcare, would not be readily accessible to refugees with complex needs.
The MPs have pledged to “fight these inhumane plans all the way” and are now demanding a meeting with Home Office Ministers.