Are the camps for asylum seekers immoral? 

Asylum seekers will be housed in disused military bases and an old prison under plans to cut the £6 million a day the government says it spends on hotel accommodation. Credit: PA

Neither Rishi Sunak nor his Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick are on the furthest right, anti-immigration wing of their party. 

So it was all the more striking today to hear Jenrick say to MPs that the government would do "nothing more"  - in his words - than meet the "essential living needs" of asylum seekers, or those he calls "illegal migrants". 

He has taken control of disused military bases and will incarcerate them in barracks and portacabins, behind wire fences, well away from towns, prior to their deportation to Rwanda - if the courts ever permit such expulsions.

Maybe Sunak and Jenrick are right, that "suffusing" the UK immigration system with deterrents will reduce the number of desperate people risking their lives in small boats crossing the channel.

But on their own analysis, that millions of people are being displaced across the world every year by war, climate change and famine, it is implausible that numbers of refugees heading for the UK will diminish much.  

Which then turns the question from what works to what's ethical.  

These places are symbols of the values of a society and they matter.

Which is why I listened hard for the shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper to say the new refugee camps were immoral or wrong. I never once heard her make an argument about morality or the duties of a rich country. 

Why didn't she?

Presumably because her leader Keir Starmer has calculated the camps will be popular with voters in the former Red Wall of the midlands and the north who once voted Labour, switched to Farage and ended up at the last election backing Boris Johnson's Tory Party.

Starmer needs them to vote Labour again. So he prefers to attack the government for alleged incompetence rather than a breach of basic decency. 

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