The storm surrounding Suella Braverman’s tenure as Home Secretary is refusing to die down – the latest critique of her handling of the overcrowded Manston asylum centre in Kent has come from one of her fellow Conservative MPs.
In a scathing interview this morning, Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, said Manston is “overwhelmed” and questioned whether this was a deliberate policy.
Gale, who visited the facility yesterday, said: “When I last visited [Manston] July it was a good facility being very well run”, but there had recently been a “deterioration” and the situation there was now “wholly unacceptable”.
He said that he thought the decision not to book more hotel space for the asylum seekers – which has led to the build-up of people at the centre – was taken by the Home Secretary, though he wasn’t sure which Home Secretary (Suella Braverman took over from Priti Patel at the start of September, has since resigned and then been reinstated in the role). Home Office sources dispute this, saying that hotels are being booked. It’s believed that neither Home Secretary has visited Manston.
The suggestion from critics is that there was a deliberate “no-hotels” policy, implying that Home Secretary(ies) wanted conditions in centres like Manston to be seen to be worsening to discourage potential asylum seekers from travelling to the UK. Or it may have been done to put pressure on officials to speed up the processing of asylum claims.
Whatever the reason, the optics are horrendous. Team Sunak will have hoped and expected the upset over Braverman’s reappointment as Home Secretary to quickly die down. It hasn’t. Instead, it has turned into a full-blown political crisis.
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Braverman is due to face urgent questions in the Commons this afternoon, though it is unclear whether she will field them herself. What’s more, the “Leaky Sue” controversy still hangs over her – she was forced to resign from Liz Truss’s government when it was found she had sent sensitive document from a personal email account. Watch this space.
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