Suella Braverman refuses to rule out using disused cruise ships to house asylum seekers

Home secretary Suella Braverman has refused to rule out using disused cruise ships to house asylum seekers.

The Cabinet minister insisted “everything is on the table” while being quizzed on Wednesday over her handling of the migrants trying to make their way to Britain.

Ms Braverman told the Lords justice and home affairs committee it was “incredibly difficult” to meet the UK Government’s own challenge of getting 100,000 asylum seekers into local authority accommodation, with that figure currently at 57,000.

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She said: “You then asked about cruise ships. We want to end the use of hotels as quickly as possible because it’s an unacceptable cost to the taxpayer. It’s over £5 million a day on hotel use alone.

Home secretary Suella Braverman insisted all options were on the table. Picture: PA

“We will bring forward a range of alternative sites. They will include disused holiday parks, former student halls – I should say we are looking at those sites. I wouldn’t say anything is confirmed yet.

“But we need to bring forward thousands of places, and when you talk about vessels all I can say is – because we are in discussion with a wide variety of providers – that everything is still on the table and nothing is excluded.”

In Scotland, there are two cruise ships being used to house Ukraine asylum seekers following the war with Russia. One is situated at the King George V docks on the River Clyde, and the other is docked in Leith

Ms Braverman suggested she was yet to find a new airline to deport people to Rwanda after Privilege Style pulled out.

Ministers used a plane run by the Spanish charter airline for the first planned flight in June, which was abandoned at the last minute due to legal challenges.

The home secretary said: “We have a lot of ongoing discussions with several airlines. We are returning people almost every week to various countries around the world. We do that through scheduled flights, we charter flights … so we’re in a variety of discussions with several airlines for lots of different destinations.

“When it comes to Rwanda, at the moment the delivery of Rwanda … is on pause. It’s on hold while we’re going through litigation.”

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Earlier this week Ms Braverman said she was committed to sending migrants to Rwanda as soon as possible after High Court judges ruled the Government’s multi-million pound plan to give asylum seekers who cross the Channel to the UK a one-way ticket to the east African nation was lawful.

But Downing Street admitted it was impossible to say when flights could take off while the threat of further legal action remained.

Ms Braverman’s appearance prompted an angry response from Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael, who accused the minister of “doubling down” on methods that did not work.

He said: “Instead of fixing the broken asylum system by creating safe and legal routes for refugees or dealing with the claims backlog, Suella Braverman is doubling down with the same failed approach.

“Her ludicrous proposals to house refugees in cruise ships will once again be ineffective and incredibly expensive. She needs to come clean with the public on exactly how much these plans will cost.

“We know from the Scottish Government’s use of ships to accommodate Ukrainian refugees that this is a solution that creates its own problems.”

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