Emily Thornberry refuses to answer BBC QT question on migrants

Emily Thornberry refused to answer a question on Labour’s stance on housing migrants’ in former Army barracks. When pressed on BBC Question Time, Ms Thornberry appeared to tie herself in knots, failing to give a clear answer. The MP for Islington South and Finsbury was asked by presented Fiona Bruce if Labour objects to the policy of housing migrants in former army bases.

In response, the Shadow Attorney General stumbled: “Okay, okay so, first of all. First of all, there’s not, I mean, it’s not as though they’re saying it’s going to be an alternative. It’s going to be an add-on.

“It’s not like – when we’ve asked questions about this – they’re not going to be moving people out of the hotels and putting them in the army bases or in some sort of ship somewhere.

“It’s an add-on to all the hotels somewhere. The answer to getting people out of hotels is to make the decisions faster, it is to work with the National Crime Agency and have some people to make sure we go for the gangs.”

Ms Bruce hit back, saying: “Can you just answer the question? Do labour object or support the idea of using barracks to house asylum seekers?”

Ms Thornberry sighed and shrugged her shoulders, before saying: “As I say, it’s not actually. What I object to with the use of barracks’ is that it’s going to be used as an add-on to the hotels. So it’s not a solution.”

The presenter pressed her: “But in principle, you don’t have a problem with asylum seekers being put in barracks?”

The MP for Islington South and Finsbury responded saying she does not “have a problem with people being treated humanely”, adding: “I don’t have a problem with a system which is firm and fast and fair. All they’re trying to do is set up a fight and an argument so we don’t think about the core problem.”

Ms Bruce hit back: “So you’re not committed to whether you’re supporting the barracks or not.”

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick announced yesterday that Rishi Sunak will be finding accommodation for new migrant arrivals in former army barracks

He told the House of Commons that the Prime Minister is “showing leadership” on the issue.

Mr Jenrick also confirmed reports overnight that the Government is now looking at housing migrants on “vessels”, citing Scotland and the Netherlands as countries who have also used this as an option for dealing with numbers.

But he was clear that using re-purposed barrack blocks, portacabins and floating vessels “on their own will not end the use of hotels”.

He added: “But alongside local dispersal and other forms of accommodation we will bring forward in due course they will relieve pressure on communities and manage asylum seekers in a more appropriate and cost-effective way.”

Mr Jenrick also set out that from next week the UK will resume data sharing with banks to stop illegal migrants opening bank accounts, making it “harder to live and work in the UK illegally”.


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