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Foreign secretary defends opposition to plans for a migrant center at the former RAF base in his constituency

Foreign Secretary James smartly defends his opposition to plans for an immigration detention center at the former RAF base in his Essex constituency.

The Foreign Minister has defended his opposition to Home Office proposals to build a new immigration detention center on a former RAF base in his constituency.

The base at Wethersfield in North Essex, currently used by the Ministry of Defense Police (MDP), has been earmarked to house 1,500 migrants amid significant local opposition that the facility would not be adequate.

Earlier this week, James Cleverly, who is foreign secretary and local parliamentarian, backed arguments from council leaders and resident groups that the site was “unsuitable for asylum accommodation” due to its remote location. and the lack of surrounding infrastructure.

Yesterday the minister, who was in Paris with Rishi Sunak to pressure the French government to step up its efforts to stop people from crossing the Channel, said it was “absolutely right” to make his thoughts known to the Interior Ministry.

Mr Cleverly, MP for Braintree, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’m talking about the practicalities of MDP Wethersfield in my constituency, which is so far removed from any other social infrastructure.

Earlier this week, James Cleverly (pictured), who is both Foreign Secretary and local MP, backed arguments from council leaders and resident groups that the site was “unsuitable for accommodation asylum” due to its remote location and lack of surrounding infrastructure.

‘We’re going to be looking at a variety of places and I’m laying out my thoughts. Ultimately, no decision has been made and I will continue to support the work of my good friends at the Home Office to make sure we get the situation under control.

“It is absolutely correct that we approve the comments on the practical aspects of the individual proposals, but the general point is that we will continue to work with the French authorities and other countries to break this very evil business model of people smuggling.”

Braintree council leader Graham Butland said the remote location meant MDP Wethersfield should not be on the table as a migrant facility.

“That makes Wethersfield even more unsuitable because it’s not tied to a town or anything like that,” he said.

Mark Ault, of the Fields Association campaign group, said: ‘We should integrate asylum seekers into the community, but there is nowhere here to integrate them. It’s totally inappropriate, it’s inhumane.

The Foreign Secretary raised eyebrows when he appeared to oppose the Home Office’s wishes to house the migrants at the former RAF base.

He said earlier this week: ‘I highlighted the remote nature of the site, limited transport infrastructure and narrow road network and that these factors would mean the site was unsuitable for asylum accommodation.

“Ultimately, we need to drastically reduce the number of people trying to enter the country.

“The entire government is working to stop evil human traffickers from exploiting the vulnerable for money and to ensure that our immigration system supports people who do the right thing and follow the rules.”

The prime minister’s official spokesman declined to comment on the dispute, but said: “What we are focused on as a government is tackling this problem, tackling the fact that we have so many people staying in hotels, at a daily cost of £6 millions”. to the taxpayer, and the Home Office is working to provide more detention capacity for those we are seeking to eliminate.’

“I think it’s also important to reference that one of the specific core parts of the bill is to make sure that we’re removing people faster once the bill passes, so that people are removed within weeks in instead of months and years, but the Home Office is working to increase detention capacity.’

The Home Office declined to comment on individual proposals, but a spokesperson said: “We are working across government and with local authorities to look at a range of options and sites, all of which will be in line with building regulations and health and safety.” ‘

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