Migrants to be moved out of hotels in days to end Channel crossing crisis

Migrants will be moved out of hotels within days as the Government finally begins to end “one of the most damaging manifestations” of the Channel crisis.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told MPs the first of 50 taxpayer-funded hotels will be closed “in the coming days and will be complete by the end of January”.

He said: “Ever since the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and I assumed office one year ago, we have been clear that this was completely unacceptable and must end as soon as practicable.”

Another 50 hotel contracts will be terminated by March.

Mr Jenrick revealed some 50 asylum seekers are now staying on the Government’s first asylum barge – the Bibby Stockholm.

And forcing migrants to share hotel rooms has “avoided the need” for the Home Office to shell out on another 72 venues, the Cabinet minister said.

He told MPs: “These hotels should be assets for their local communities: serving businesses and tourists; hosting the life events we all treasure like weddings and birthdays – not housing illegal migrants at unsustainable cost to the taxpayer. So, we took immediate action to reduce our reliance on hotels.

“We are in the process of re-embarking the barge in Portland: and as of 23rd October occupancy reached approximately 50 individuals. This will continue in a phased manner the coming days and weeks.

“And nearly a year on, as a direct result of the progress we have made to stop the boats, 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. But we will not stop there. As we continue to deliver on our strategy to stop the boats, we will be able to exit more hotels.”

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

The first contracts to be terminated will be four-star hotels which have included Victorian stately homes, country houses and luxury flats.

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

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

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

The Immigration Minister rejected claims that crossings are only 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 must and will go further to stop the boats altogether.

“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.”

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Mr Jenrick told MPs the £480m 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.”

The Immigration Minister said the Government will “continue to act in the interests of the law-abiding majority, who expect and deserve secure borders”.

He added: “These crossings are not only illegal, dangerous and unnecessary. They are also unfair,

“They are unfair on those genuinely in need of resettlement as our finite capacity is taken up by people – overwhelmingly young men – coming to the UK directly from safety in France.

“But most of all, they are unfair on the law-abiding British public who face the real-world consequences of illegal migration through housing waiting lists, strained public services and serious community cohesion challenges.”

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