A senior Tory MP has criticised Priti Patel’s “inhuman” approach to immigration.
In an interview with the Independent, former minister Caroline Nokes accused ministers of “paying lip service” to Wendy Williams’ Lessons Learned report on the Windrush scandal, which occurred while she was in office.
The Tory MP for Romsey and Southampton North said ministers had failed to prioritise people in Home Office policy, as recommended in the report, and described the department’s direction on immigration overall as “hideously wrong”.
She sharply criticised the approach to asylum seekers taken by current home secretary Priti Patel and minister Chris Philp, saying an increasingly “brutal” response risks “whipping up an unpleasant reaction to some very vulnerable people”, while creating legal and financial problems for ministers in the future.
“I don’t know where we go next from here. I think it’s a great shame that they aren’t being more compassionate towards some really vulnerable people,” the former minister told the paper.
Nokes was particularly critical of government plans for a swift deportation process for sending asylum seekers to EU countries after the Brexit transition period, and to put those waiting on asylum applications into camps. One such camp for 500 people in Nokes’s constituency has no electricity or mains water, the paper said.
“We know these people are going to have had huge trauma. It fills me with horror that our supported asylum accommodation processes have gone so hideously wrong that they can’t even recognise that this is not a decent way to accommodate people,” Nokes said.
“The Home Office went through so much pain over Windrush; the Home Secretary herself has described it as a stain on the Home Office. And yet it appears that we don’t care that putting asylum seekers in a camp with no water might also be regarded as a shameful stain on the Home Office.”
Nokes criticised the department’s plans to deem any asylum claim from a person who has travelled through a safe third country as “inadmissible”, saying it will “create two classes of asylum seeker: those whose application will be processed and those whose won’t”.