Happy birthday Lindsay Hoyle. The Speaker of the House was bombarded with such messages today as he celebrated his 64th birthday by granting an urgent question to Yvette Cooper on the accommodation of asylum seekers at Napier Barracks. Last week, six asylum seekers won a legal challenge against the government after a judge ruled that their accommodation in the barracks failed to meet a minimum standard.
Today MPs clashed over whether or not such accommodation was justified with Cooper claiming the Home Office was guilty of 'ignoring public health advice in the middle of a pandemic and putting public health at risk.' A trio of Tories led the counterattack on Labour. First up was Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich and a staunch member of the Common Sense Group which recently published a blistering 'anti-woke' manifesto. Taking aim at opposition parliamentarians, Hunt said:
“I see this issue about public health in a pandemic as a little bit of a distraction technique, frankly. Pandemic or no pandemic, I am pretty sure that most Labour Members would rather have these people, who are largely illegal immigrants, in elaborate hotel accommodation for as long as possible—potentially indefinitely. Does the Minister agree that if we are going to do what the elected Government were asked to do, which is take back control of our borders, it might be necessary in time to be open to looking at human rights law, because it seems that these judges, who are so often out of step with public opinion, are a blockage to us doing what we need to do?
Next up was the doughty Lee Anderson, fresh from launching yet another attack on travellers. The ex miner, who told colleagues last month that he had ripped up his TV licence fee in protest at the BBC, today took aim at 'leftie lawyers' instead:
“After five years of living in the back of a lorry fighting for King and country during the second world war, my grandad Charlie returned to these shores, to live in poor housing, with no heating and no hot water, and he made do with an outside toilet and no access to free yoga lessons. He then went on to work for 40 years down the pit and not once did he ever complain about his life. So does the Minister agree that if illegal immigrants entering this country do not like the housing, which has much better facilities than in my grandad’s day, one solution would be to return to France, taking their leftie lawyers and the Opposition with them?
Then it was the turn of Red Wall Tory Jonathan Gullis who was Zooming in from Stoke-on-Trent. Gullis, a former teacher, gave the ruling an F as he too took a swipe at the legal profession and the largesse of the existing asylum system:
“The people of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke cannot figure out what is wrong with an Army barracks that has provided free accommodation, food, sanitation and yoga to people who have entered this country illegally. Leftie lawyers have stuck their oar in and ensured that hard-earned UK taxpayers’ money is going to have to be splashed on expensive accommodation, such as hotels or buying properties, as seen in Stoke-on-Trent, adding further strain to local public services. Does the Minister agree that people entering illegally from safe places such as France should be returned immediately and that we should now look to Denmark and process asylum seekers outside the UK as part of our plan for immigration?
As one parliamentary wag said to Mr S: 'It's rare to have a Home Office session where Priti isn't the most outspoken one.'