Suella Braverman ridiculed by Asda chief for going to crisis-hit Kent immigrant centre in a Chinook


Suella Braverman was last night ridiculed for travelling to the crisis-hit Manston immigration centre in a military helicopter which costs around £3,500 an hour to operate.

The embattled Home Secretary, who is under mounting pressure to get a grip on the Channel migrant crisis, travelled to the processing centre in Kent. 

But she has come under fire for travelling in an RAF Chinook for the two-hour visit at the site which is a 40-minute car journey from London. 

Last night on BBC‘s Question Time, Asda Chairman Stuart Rose criticised Mrs Braverman’s decision to use the huge military aircraft, claiming it sent the wrong message.

He said: ‘I don’t like the way we are dealing with it. I don’t like the rhetoric; I don’t like the fact that the Home Secretary is standing there and goes to Manston today in a Chinook helicopter.

‘What sort of message does that send to anybody, are we starting a war with these people down in Manston?’

Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrived at the immigration centre in Manston, Kent, in a RAF Chinook (pictured)

Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrived at the immigration centre in Manston, Kent, in a RAF Chinook (pictured)

The Home Secretary was met with boos, jeers and whistles as she stepped off the Chinook wearing a Top Gun-style pilots’ helmet.

In recent days Ms Braverman has come under mounting pressure over the conditions at the immigration centre, which has led to outbreaks of diphtheria, MRSA and violence.

At one point there were 4,000 people being detained for weeks at the site that was only meant to hold 1,600 people for a few days at a time.

Campaigners are now threatening legal action against the Home Secretary over the conditions and the unlawful treatment of those at the centre.

Mr Rose went on to criticise the language used by Mrs Braverman after she claimed there was a migrant ‘invasion’ on the south coast and that illegal migration in the UK is ‘out of control’.

He said: ‘How do we ever allow a person to do that. How does she speak with such dangerous language about the problem.

‘This will only be solved by negotiation, and it will only be solved by people sitting round a table as everything is solved.’

Mr Rose also said his immigrant parents would probably not be able to enter the UK today.

He added: ‘Immigration has been around for thousands of years. People come here, mostly it’s economic migration because people who have no food, no water, no education no prospects for their children, no way of bettering themselves want to come to a better place.

‘My father was an immigrant to this country, my mother was an immigrant to this country, I probably wouldn’t get in today, or they wouldn’t, so let’s not knock it.

Last night on BBC’s Question time, Asda chief Stuart Rose criticised the Home Secretary for choosing a military vehicle to arrive at the overcrowded immigration centre. He said: ‘What sort of message does that send to anybody, are we starting a war with these people down in Manston?’

‘People come here from persecution, political persecution, we have had people from the pail of Russia, we’ve had the Huguenots, we’ve had Ugandans, we’ve had the Syrians.

‘We’ve had everybody here and now we have got these people.

‘There are always people in that migration, people who are going to game the system. But we have to be, if we are a caring, rich country, and if we are apparently the fifth richest economy in the world, even with our recession, sixth, we have to accept that it’s part of our duty.’

Downing Street has defended Mrs Braverman’s use of a military helicopter.

No10 have defended the Home Secretary's decision to travel by a helicopter to the site as she was going to see the area of 'operations at sea'

No10 have defended the Home Secretary’s decision to travel by a helicopter to the site as she was going to see the area of ‘operations at sea’ 

A No10 spokeswoman said: ‘The Home Secretary was in Dover to receive an update on operations on the ground. That obviously involved operations in the Channel.

‘She travelled on a military aircraft to see the area of operations at sea.’

During the helicopter journey, Dan O’Mahoney, Border Force’s clandestine threat commander, was said to have pointed out locations to Mrs Braverman where migrants’ small boats are brought to shore. 

The visit comes after ministers admitted the Manston facility is not operating legally, due to its overcrowding and disease control.

After arriving at the centre, Mrs Braverman was shown some of the tents that had been set up for migrants to live in as well as the catering facilities and mobile shower blocks.

Campaigners are threatening legal action against the Home Secretary over conditions at Manston and the 'unlawful treatment' of people held at the facility

Campaigners are threatening legal action against the Home Secretary over conditions at Manston and the ‘unlawful treatment’ of people held at the facility

Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, accused Ms Braverman of failing to meet with local MPs or council leaders upon her trip to Kent.

She said: ‘The small boats crisis is not just in the migrant processing facilities, it is on our Kent beaches, schools, services and housing.

‘It’s a great pity that the Home Secretary wasn’t able to meet with Kent MPs and Kent council leaders to discuss firsthand the serious local impact of this issue which Kent leaders have described as at ‘breaking point’.’

Yesterday a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the new leader was receiving twice daily updates on the situations at the centre.

The Home Office said steps were being taken to bolster the 24/7 medical facilities already on-site, as well as to provide extra bedding, improved catering facilities and more activities to support migrant welfare, including for children.

Mrs Braverman said after her visit: ‘I wanted to see first-hand how we’re working to reduce the number of people in Manston, support people there, and thank staff for all their efforts.

‘I am incredibly proud of the skill and dedication shown to tackle this challenging situation here on a daily basis.

‘This is a complex and difficult situation, which we need to tackle on all fronts and look at innovative solutions.

‘To break the business model of the people smugglers, we need to ensure that the illegal migration route across the Channel is ultimately rendered unviable.’

Downing Street said the number has since reduced to 2,700, after more than 1,000 were moved in the last few days, and that the Prime Minister was receiving twice daily updates on the situation. 

This morning Home Officer minister Chris Philp criticised the ‘cheek’ of people who have entered the UK illegally complaining about the processing centres.

Home Office minister Chris Philp said told Sky that Manston was legally compliant days after immigration minister Robert Jenrick suggested it was not. And he later told Times Radio: 'If people choose to enter a country illegally, and unnecessarily ... it's a bit of a cheek to then start complaining about the conditions.'

Home Office minister Chris Philp said told Sky that Manston was legally compliant days after immigration minister Robert Jenrick suggested it was not. And he later told Times Radio: ‘If people choose to enter a country illegally, and unnecessarily … it’s a bit of a cheek to then start complaining about the conditions.’ 

Hundreds of people have been encouraged to leave Manston in northern Kent after simply providing a forwarding address, the Telegraph reported today

Hundreds of people have been encouraged to leave Manston in northern Kent after simply providing a forwarding address, the Telegraph reported today

Speaking to Times Radio he said: ‘If people choose to enter a country illegally, and unnecessarily, it is a bit, you know, it’s a bit of a cheek to then start complaining about the conditions when you’ve illegally entered a country without necessity.

‘We’re spending something like two or three billion pounds a year looking after people who have entered the country illegally and unnecessarily.

‘I think, frankly, that is pretty generous, actually… our asylum accommodation is better than most European countries.’ 

He added that people who had passed through other countries in Europe ‘don’t even have to come here’, and described the numbers as ‘overwhelming’. 

It comes as a group of refugees being transferred from Manston were left at Victoria station in central London on Tuesday night without accommodation, appropriate clothing or money.

Westminster City Council said its rough sleeping service had offered hotel spaces to 11 of these people, and seven had taken up the offer. 

Alistair Carmichael, home affair spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said that the Mr Philp’s comments were ‘unbelievable’.

He said: ‘Chris Philp’s comments reveal a shocking and callous complacency over the disaster unfolding at Manston.

‘It is unbelievable that as we hear reports of sexual assaults, disease, and chronic overcrowding, his response is to accuse those who complain of “cheek”.’



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