RISHI Sunak has been told to “get a grip” of a failure to process asylum applications after his Home Secretary was accused of admitting the Tories have “broken” the system.
The Prime Minister acknowledged there was a “serious and escalating problem” with only four per cent of asylum claims processed last year and a worrying situation at the Manston migration centre.
The facility in Kent is now 3,000 people over its 1,000 capacity and continues to grow as more people arrive.
Suggestions have been made that the Home Secretary received legal advice to move people out of the centre, but has not done so.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the UK Government of having “lost control of the borders”.
Pointing to under-pressure Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s previous comments the system was “broken”, Sir Keir added: “If the asylum system is broken and his lot have been in power for 12 years, how can it be anyone’s fault by theirs?”
Mr Sunak insisted that “people rightly want to see us getting a grip of migration and our borders”.
He added: “Border control is a serious complex issue. But not only does his party not have a plan they have opposed to every single measure we have taken to solve a problem.
“You can’t attack a plan if you don’t have a plan.”
The Labour leader criticised the Conservatives’ plan to get a grip of illegal migration with controversial plans to deport asylum seeks to Rwanda.
He said: “The Rwanda deal was launched in April. It cost the taxpayer £140 million and rising.
“The number of people deported to Rwanda is zero.
“Since then, 30,000 people across the Channel in small boats. It’s not working is it? He hasn’t got a grip.”
Mr Sunak admitted that “not enough” asylum applications are being processed, with the Labour leader pointing out only 4% have been completed.
The PM added: “We’ve increased the number of processing officials by 80%.
“We are putting an extra 500 more by next March.
“But if he really was serious about fixing this problem, then he would acknowledge that we do need to tackle the issue of people putting spurious repeated last minute claims to frustrate the process. That’s how we’ll tackle the system.”
Sir Keir pointed to the “massively overcrowded” situation at Manston air force base where there is “all sorts of diseases breaking out”.
He added: “Did the Home Secretary receive legal advice that she should move people out – yes or no?”
Mr Sunak said the government has a policy not to comment on legal advice.
He added: “But what I can say is the significant action that the Home Secretary has taken to fix the issue.
“Since September, 30 more hotels with 4,500 new beds, appointing a senior general to control the situation at Manston and indeed, increasing the number of staff there by almost a half.
“These are significant steps to demonstrate that we are getting a grip of this system – but this is a serious and escalating problem.
“We will make sure that we control our borders and we will always do it fairly and compassionately because that’s the right thing.”
Sir Keir suggested that the Home Secretary has received advice to move people out of the facility, but claimed the Prime Minister “just hasn’t got the guts to say”.
He said: “He did a grubby deal with her putting her in charge of Britain’s security just so he could dodge an election.
“She’s broken the ministerial code, lost control of a refugee centre and put our security at risk.”
The Labour leader said that “she did get one thing right”, adding that “she finally admitted that the Tories have broken the asylum system”.
He pointed to “criminal gangs running amok, thousands crossing the Channel in small boats every week, hardly any claims processed”.
Sir Keir added: “So why doesn’t he gets a proper Home Secretary, scrap the Rwandan gimmick, crackdown on smuggling gangs in the small boat crossings speed up asylum claims and agree an international deal on refugees?
“Start governing for once and get a grip.”
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