Refugees 'must share London hotel rooms' insists Rishi Sunak after Pimlico protest

Above: Asylum seekers stand in the road outside a London hotel

Rishi Sunak said refugees must be prepared to share hotel rooms in London, insisting it was "more than fair".

The Prime Minister spoke after a large group of asylum seekers ended up on the street in Westminster for two nights.

The group refused to enter a Pimlico hotel where the Home Office had asked them to sleep "four people per room".

During a press conference on Monday Mr Sunak said: "We are making more efficient use of hotels by asking people to share rooms where it is appropriate to do so.

"We found an additional 11,500 places which will save taxpayers an extra £250m-a-year.

"And I say to those migrants who are objecting - this is more than fair.

"If you are coming here illegally claiming sanctuary from death, torture or persecution then you should be willing to share a taxpayer-funded hotel room in central London."

On Friday morning, around 20 people were still camped outside the hotel in protest at the cramped conditions inside, according to the council.

Sat in doorways and on the floor, most of the individuals were dressed in tracksuit bottoms and thick jackets despite the warm weather.

Items scattered on the pavement included suitcases, sleeping bags and even trays of food.

The group later briefly stood in the middle of Belgrave Road blocking traffic, before being escorted to the pavement by Met Police officers.

Eventually after officers left the scene, asylum seekers went into the hotel to speak with a representative from the Home Office.

A view of the scene outside the hotel on Belgrave Road in Pimlico last week Credit: PA

In a letter last week to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, council leader Adam Hug complained that asking people who “are likely to have been through significant and traumatic events” to share “an inappropriately-sized room with multiple strangers defies common sense and basic decency”.

He said the Government’s demand created “safeguarding and health risks”, and noted that “leaving them on the street for multiple nights is not an alternative”.

Rough sleeping teams have been supporting the refugees, according to the council, which claimed the Home Office had not put forward any resolution to the matter.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Despite the number of people arriving in the UK reaching record levels, we continue to provide accommodation – at a cost of £6 million a day – for asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, to meet our legal obligation.

“The accommodation offered to asylum seekers by providers, on a no-choice basis, is of a decent standard and meets all legal and contractual requirements.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...