Senior Tories dismiss Lee Anderson's call to send asylum seekers to Orkney

Orkneys/Lee Anderson
Lee Anderson said 'a nice Scottish island with a few outbuildings would be suitable' for asylum seekers. Credit: PA

Senior Tories have dismissed a suggestion from the Conservative Party's deputy chairman that asylum seekers could be held on Orkney if the Rwanda plan fails.

Lee Anderson – who has become known for controversial statements – told GB News people fleeing their countries for the UK could be held on a remote Scottish island until their applications are processed.

His comments came after the Supreme Court ruled the current plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

During an exchange in the Commons, Labour MP Sir George Howarth asked Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt whether the suggestion was serious.

"Would the right honourable lady take this opportunity to either confirm or deny that the Falkland Islands is a possible alternative to Rwanda?" he said.

Ms Mordaunt replied: "I’m very happy to knock that one on the head. That it is not an alternative to Rwanda nor are various other places that have been mentioned, including the Orkney Islands."

In a swipe at Scotland's ruling SNPs, she added: "That would be definitely out given the reliability of SNP ferry services."

Speaking on GB News, Mr Anderson, MP for Ashfield, had said "a nice Scottish island with a few outbuildings would be suitable" for people seeking asylum.

"This is a beautiful country. Parts of Scotland are a ‘go to’ destination, the remote islands – I’d like to be able to afford a place up there," he said.

"If we can get some accommodation up there, keep these people safe – these people want to be safe, they’re fleeing so-called persecution from these war-torn countries.

“If we can find an island in the Orkneys or up there that’s got no-one on there to start off with, put some decent accommodation on, then it’s job done."

Asked about the remarks, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told Sky News: "Lee will always have colourful suggestions, as he always does actually in British politics.

"But the fact of the matter is we will do what it takes to stop the boats, and I think we’ve had that clarity from Rishi Sunak."

Alistair Carmichael said farmers and crofters had been left frustrated by Scottish Government funding decisions Credit: PA

Mr Anderson's comments drew criticism from Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael, who said the idea is “not a serious proposition”.

The Liberal Democrat MP said: “I would be astonished if Lee Anderson could even find Orkney – or in his words ‘the Orkneys’ – on a map.

“His remarks show inhumanity towards desperate and vulnerable people – and disdain towards island communities to boot.

“Anderson has form for brainstorming Tory policy live on air. Obviously, this is a novel sort of brainstorming as it does not actually involve the engagement of a brain, but instead looks more like an exercise in corralling as many prejudices as possible into one space and calling it a policy.”

He said the comments are an attempt to “kick up dust and distract attention from the complete failure of this Government to manage our asylum and immigration system”.

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