Labour slam Home Secretary for missing migrant talk in Parliament
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The Home Secretary has been shamed after she failed to attend a House of Commons meeting to provide an update on the Manston migrant processing facility. The former military base has come under intense scrutiny after reports emerged of dangerous overcrowding and outbreaks of disease within the centre. Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary blasted the absence of Suella Braverman as Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick was forced to step in to provide the vital Manston update to MPs.
Addressing the Commons, Ms Cooper thanked the Immigration Minister before she added: “I have to say, why is the Home Secretary not here? This is supposed to be her top priority.
“We have had two urgent questions, a debate and this statement in the last few weeks on this chaos and she hasn’t done any of them. You have to ask, what is she for?
“She obviously doesn’t have a grip and she has made this chaos worse.”
The Shadow Home Secretary added: “This issue is too important not to have a grip in place and if the Home Secretary is too frit to attend this House and take responsibility for her decisions, she should get out the way and let someone else do the job.”
The criticism of the Home Secretary comes as small boat crossings over the Channel have risen to unprecedented levels.
More than 40,000 migrants have reached British shores in small boats in the year so far, marking the highest number since records began.
The Home Secretary has come under particular pressure to address the Manston migrant centre after it emerged some 4,000 people were being held at the facility designed to house a maximum of 1,600.
The Home Office has since confirmed that a man who died after being held at the Manston processing centre had diphtheria. The news has sparked concerns that the cramped conditions may have caused the disease to spread and migrants, now rehoused at alternative facilities, could become unwell.
Read more: Tobias Ellwood warns Suella Braverman migrant crisis to get worse
The Immigration Minister’s update was preceded by a fierce dressing down from the Speaker of the Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
He expressed his disappointment that the statement had only been handed to the opposition ten minutes before the meeting, as opposed to the 45 minute minimum specified in the Common’s guidelines.
Sir Lindsay said: “I feel very disappointed for the Shadow Secretary of State who [has to] answer something that’s not been given in good time.
“Can I say, through the Minister, that officials need to recognise the rules of this House and if they don’t understand, we can help them with a training programme.”
Mr Jenrick responded by offering his apologies on behalf of the Home Office to Ms Cooper.
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The UK Health Security Agency has confirmed there were 50 diphtheria cases involving migrants who had recently arrived in the UK between January 1 and November 25.
The number has spiked in recent weeks with 27 of the confirmed cases recorded across November and 18 in October.
Though a highly contagious infection, diphtheria is very rare within the UK as the population has been vaccinated against it since the 1940s.
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