Nicola Sturgeon today accused the government of treating humans “like cattle in a holding pen” after plans emerged to process migrants off the coast of Scotland.
A number of Government proposals for dealing with the migrant crisis have been reported in recent days, including processing them on a Scottish island, wave machines in the Channel and sending them to remote territories.
However, the idea of building a processing centre on an island off Scotland was strongly opposed by the Scottish First Minister.
She tweeted: “They can rest assured that any proposal to treat human beings like cattle in a holding pen will be met with the strongest possible opposition from me.”
Another option being considered is to buy retired ferries and convert them into asylum-processing centres, according to The Times.
The Home Office has also held discussions about moving migrants to decommissioned oil platforms in the North Sea for processing, according to reports. Ministers apparently decided the plan was a “no go”.
It has also been claimed that Downing Street has asked officials to consider sending asylum seekers to Moldova, Morocco or Papua New Guinea for processing, as well as the south Atlantic islands of Ascension and St Helena, which are overseas British territories.
Alan Nicholls, a member of the island council, said it would be “extremely expensive and a bit of a logistical nightmare” to transport asylum seekers 4,000 miles away from the UK.
The Home Office dismissed reports migrants would be shipped to the volcanic island but it was apparently put forward by the Foreign Office in a list of offshore locations.
Other ideas discussed during “blue-sky thinking” conversations include boats with pumps that could generate waves that would force boats back into French waters, according to the FT.
Another idea discussed was to lay booms or barriers in the Channel to stop boats reaching the shore, according to the paper.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered officials to draw up a range of destinations off the UK mainland in an attempt to deal with the number of migrants entering the UK in small boats.
More than 5,000 migrants have arrived in dinghies by the end of August – more than double the whole of 2019. Ms Patel has pledged to make the route “unviable”.
Such radical proposals are not new ideas among the Conservatives with similar schemes being floated in the past.
Shadow home secretary Sir Oliver Letwin said asylum-seekers could be automatically deported to a foreign island “far, far away” for processing. The idea collapsed when admitted he did not have the “slightest idea” where that island would be.
A No 10 spokesman said: “We are developing plans to reform our illegal migration and asylum policies so we can keep providing protection to those who need it while preventing abuse of the system and criminality, which, as we have seen with the rise in gang-facilitated Channel crossings, is a problem. As part of that work, we have been looking at what a whole host of other countries do to inform a plan for the UK.”