Plans to send asylum seekers to other countries or to remote British islands for processing have been condemned as “inhumane and unworkable”.
Places like Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have already been rejected by the Home Secretary Priti Patel and the suggestion that Scottish islands could become holding pens for asylum seekers has been dismissed as ridiculous.
Alistair Carmichael MP, the Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman and Orkney and Shetland MP, said: “Scotland’s islands are welcoming places but it is an attitude straight out of the 19th century to think that inconvenient people can be shipped off to islands to keep them out of sight and mind – and disrespectful to both islanders and those seeking sanctuary themselves.
“This is no way for a modern Government to behave.”
Patel is considering the Australian model of removing asylum seekers to offshore detention centres or to another country to dissuade migrants from crossing the English Channel from France.
The ideas include sending asylum seekers to Ascension Island, more than 4,000 miles from the UK, to be processed, and turning disused ferries out at sea into processing centres.
Carmichael said: “It is disgraceful that Priti Patel is still peddling her unworkable and inhumane asylum proposals. She should be getting on with the job of fixing her dysfunctional department.
He added: “46,000 people have been waiting more than six months for a decision on their asylum claim. The problem isn’t with the asylum seekers, it’s with the Home Office.
Get all the top Scottish politics news sent straight to your Inbox by signing up to our Politics newsletter.
We cover Holyrood, Westminster and local councils, with a current focus on how our governments are handling the coronavirus pandemic.
To sign up, simply enter your email address into the pink box near the top of this article.
Alternatively, you can visit our newsletter sign up-centre. Once you are there, enter your email address and select Politics and any other Gist Vile newsletters that are of interest.
“We all want to stop people cramming themselves into small boats and making dangerous attempts to cross the Channel. But Priti Patel’s nasty, impractical policies aren’t the answer. The real solution is to provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees.”
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “The Tories are lurching from one inhumane, ridiculous proposal to another. Last year they were talking about creating waves in the English Channel to wash boats back and buying ferries and oil rigs to process asylum claims.”
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council charity, condemned the proposed policy as “inhumane”.
He said: “We know from the Australian model that offshore detention leads to appalling outcomes including high levels of self-harm and mental illness.
“It is an inhumane policy that undermines our nation’s proud tradition of providing protection to people fleeing persecution and terror many of whom have gone on to work as doctors and nurses in the NHS.”