'Get A Grip': Yvette Cooper Tears Strips Off Minister Over Migrant Barge Plan

Yvette Cooper tore into a home office minister today telling him to “get a grip” of the UK’s asylum system.

Labour’s shadow home secretary told Tory Robert Jenrick the government has “lost control” of border security.

She accused the Tories of “flailing around in a panic” and chasing “flimflam headlines” after it was briefed to newspapers that migrants would be housed on ferries and barges.

Immigration minister Jenrick was in the Commons to confirm plans to house “several thousand” asylum seekers at three former military bases.

Jenrick said he was “continuing to explore the possibility” of using ferries and barges to reduce the “eye watering” reliance on hotels.

Ministers and government sources sought to play down the barge proposal despite headlines across multiple newspapers on Wednesday.

Cooper told him the barge plans show they are “desperate to distract” from their plan to turn RAF Scampton - the former home of the Dambusters - into a site for housing asylum seekers.

She also mocked Suella Braverman after Rishi Sunak poured cold water on her aim of sending migrants to Rwanda by the summer.

“The prime minister has just said the home secretary was wrong, the Rwanda flights won’t start this summer,” Cooper told the Commons.

“They’ve nowhere to send people to, and instead of speeding up asylum decisions they are just going to cancel them, so that means more people in asylum accommodation and hotels and more flimflam headlines that just don’t stack up.

“Today it was barges, and it turns out there aren’t any. Desperate to distract everyone from the damage they might want to do to the Dambusters’ heritage, instead they start talking about ferries and barges.

“Three years ago they said the same thing. Last summer the prime minister said it would be cruise liners.

“The home office civil servants said ferries would end up costing more than the hotels they are already spending so much money on.

“So instead the immigration minister has been sent around the country with a copy of Waterways Weekly trying to find barges instead, and he still hasn’t found any.”

Jenrick said Labour does not have a plan for the asylum system, adding: “Labour don’t have the faintest clue how to tackle this issue. They have absolutely no plan.

“What we’ve laid out today is three months of intense work which is seeing the backlog coming down.”

Jenrick said Labour are “too weak” to take the kind of tough decisions that they are taking.

He added: “They would make the United Kingdom a magnet, there would be open doors, an open cheque book, and there would be open season for abuse.”

The clash came after Dominic Raab was roasted this morning after repeatedly failing to say whether the government’s had even identified any barges that could be used to house migrants.

Charities also hit out at the government’s plan, saying the proposed accommodation is “grossly inadequate”.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly has even criticised the proposed use of an RAF base in his Essex constituency.

Conservative-run Braintree District Council is preparing to apply for a High Court injunction to challenge the use of the Wethersfield airbase.

Sources downplayed the likelihood of barges and ferries being used imminently, saying none had been purchased yet.