According to the UK government, this is “small boats week”. Ministers are using the relative political calm of August to fuel up proposals which they claim will decrease the number of migrants crossing the English channel. First up: moving 50 asylum seekers today to the Bibby Stockholm barge off the Dorset coast. This follows weeks of delays over health and safety concerns – particularly as the government would like to double the vessel’s capacity from 222 to 500 by putting bunks in every room. To remember: these asylum seekers are not being detained. They will be free to leave, but will be required to sign in and out. The government says using barges will cut the £6 million-a-day cost of housing asylum seekers in hotels as they wait to have their applications processed. More than 40 campaigning groups and organisations have called the barge policy “cruel and inhumane”. The Times also reports that ministers are working to bring back plans to send migrants to Britain’s overseas territories – including Ascension Island in the middle of the South Atlantic – and are negotiating with five other countries to set up deportation deals to the one with Rwanda that’s currently blocked by the courts.
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