Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has reacted to news that the government had refused to rule out establishing an offshore migrant processing facility in the Scottish islands, calling the idea “disrespectful” to both islanders and those seeking asylum in the UK. The news follows reporting by the Financial Times that the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, had sought to establish a similar facility on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Scotland’s islands are welcoming places but to consider moves like this without making any effort to engage with the communities concerned would be as disrespectful to islanders as it is insulting to those seeking sanctuary themselves.
“I wonder if any consideration at all has been given to the needs for housing, healthcare, education and other public services. Instead of coming up with hare-brained schemes like this, the Home Secretary would do better to concentrate her efforts on getting immigration and asylum systems that work efficiently and treat all people with respect.
“That we are discussing these ideas at all suggests a way of operating by this government that is entirely backwards-looking. It is an attitude straight out of the 19thcentury to think that inconvenient people can be shipped off to islands to keep them out of sight and mind. This is no way for a democratic government to work.”