Tag Archives: Weymouth

Look who’s opposing this plan to house asylum-seekers on a barge

Richard Drax: his ancestors transported slaves to the Caribbean in cramped, unhygienic ships. Now he is opposing a similar (albeit somewhat more comfortable) scheme for asylum-seekers.

When a Conservative MP whose family were pioneers of the slave trade opposes a plan to house foreign asylum-seekers on a “completely inadequate” barge, his colleagues in government ought to take notice.

They won’t, of course.

Richard Drax’s ancestors ran sugar plantations based on slave labour, in Barbados and Jamaica, until the British Parliament banned slavery in 1833. The slaves had been transported from Africa on ships where conditions were appallingly cramped, unhygienic and inhumane.

Now, single men who have already suffered to get to the UK are set to be billeted on the 222-berth barge Bibby Stockholm while they wait for their asylum claims to be processed. It is expected to be in use for 18 months.

It will be moored in Portland Port, near Weymouth, and is said to have been refurbished since the Dutch government used it for the same purpose, when it was described as an “oppressive environment.”

Drax’s constituency includes Portland, so the reason he doesn’t want this seems clear (Not In My Back Yard-ism).

According to the BBC,

he was “very concerned” about the impact on the area which “relies on small businesses”.

That being said, the mere fact of him opposing this should carry some weight.

The plan has been touted as a way to get asylum-seekers out of hotels where their accommodation has been costing the government more than £6 million per day and angering local residents.

But Labour has said it is

“in addition to hotels, not instead of them, and is still more than twice as expensive as normal asylum accommodation”.

So whichever way you slice it, the evidence in support of this new scheme is wafer-thin.

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