Desperate Tories revive plan to send migrants 4,000 miles to Ascension Island

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Ministers are once again looking at plans to send migrants to Ascension Island (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Ministers are once again looking at plans to send migrants to Ascension Island (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Desperate Tories are reviving a plan to send migrants 4,000 miles away to Ascension Island.

The idea was scrapped three years ago by now ministers are studying it again amid a legal row over their bid to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. Judges are due to rule on whether moving migrants to the east African country is legal.

But while courts weigh up the decision, the Home Office is resurrecting proposals to send them to the rocky British Overseas Territory of Ascension Island - 4,000 miles from the UK in the South Atlantic - instead. Home Office Minister Sarah Dines told Times Radio: "We're pretty confident that Rwanda is a lawful policy … so that's what we're focusing on.

“But like any responsible government, we look at additional measures, so we're looking at everything to make sure our policy works. We need to reduce the pull factor of illegal criminal gangs, getting people to this country basically abusing the system."

Desperate Tories revive plan to send migrants 4,000 miles to Ascension Island eideziqkeiqhhinvThousands of migrants have crossed the Channel in small inflatables so far this year (AFP via Getty Images)

Ms Dines claimed "times change" when asked why the Ascension Island plan was being reconsidered after being rejected by even Boris Johnson's former government. Speaking to Sky News, she insisted: "Well, times change, we look at all possibilities. This crisis in the Channel is urgent, we need to look at all possibilities and that is what we are doing.

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"We are determined to make sure there isn't the pull factor for illegal migrants to come to this country, basically to be abused by criminal organised gangs. These are international operations and they have got to stop."

The volcanic island could house an asylum processing centre as Conservatives look for ways to slash the number of small boats making the perilous crossing over the Channel. The plans to remove asylum seekers who arrive by unauthorised means to Rwanda have been stalled by legal challenges that will end up in the Supreme Court.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Tory Government is failing so badly they are just going round in circles now. They claimed they were going to do this three years ago but it never got off the ground. This joins a long list of headline chasing announcements that are never delivered.

"It’s time the Home Secretary got serious and did the hard graft to tackle the chaos in the asylum system after 13 years of Tory government. That includes cracking down on the criminal smuggling gangs and clearing the asylum backlog, as Labour has proposed.”

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Ben Glaze

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