Rishi Sunak dismisses calls to axe migrant barge policy – as blame game erupts over diseases discovered on board | The Sun

RISHI Sunak today dismissed calls to axe migrant barges as a blame-game erupted over the discovery of diseases onboard.

The PM’s spokesman insisted the vessels were the best value for Brits and confirmed it was seeking to hire more.

He said: “We think this remains an appropriate way to find alternative accommodation to hotels which are costing the taxpayers significant sums every day.”

Downing Street stood firm following criticism that all 39 asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm were last Friday moved off due to legionella found in the water supply.

Nobody has been taken ill but the Home Office has faced accusations of moving too slowly to disembark the migrants following the test results.


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The Government says ministers were first told about the bacteria traces last Thursday night.

But Dorset Council insists it told the contractors last Monday, and a Home Office official on Tuesday. 

An internal inquiry is now underway to establish the facts, with No10 insisting “lessons may have to be learned”. 

Labour’s position faced questions after Sir Keir Starmer ruled out keeping “barges or hotels or airfields” to house migrants – just days after his own immigration spokesman admitted they would be forced to keep them temporarily. 

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Meanwhile ex-Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel slammed her successor Suella Braverman over plans to put 1,700 asylum seekers in a disused air base.

Following reports RAF Wethersfield in Essex could be used as migrant accommodation for five years, she hit out at an “alarming and staggering” lack of clarity.

In a stinging letter she said it “gives the impression that the Home Office is being evasive".

More than 1,600 people made the perilous journey across the Channel last week as six Afghans tragically drowned.

Many Tory MPs are furious with French officials for failing to stop more crossings and want to scale back some of the £480million Britain is giving them.

The PM’s spokesman stressed they would look at their performance ahead of sending the next tranche of funding but was confident the deal was helping.

He said: “Obviously we think there’s more to do on both sides but it is true that since we improved and enhanced our relationship with France we have seen more people who would wish to make those crossings being intercepted.

“We’ve dismantled 82 criminal crime groups – the ringleaders of these sorts of operations –  and secured the arrest of around 400 people smugglers.

“So there are tangible results because of the investment made.”

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