Tory MP Rinses Ministers Over ‘Rosie And Jim’ Migrant Barge Plan

A Tory MP has rinsed ministers over their “Rosie and Jim” plan to house migrants on barges.

William Wragg likened government immigration plans to the nineties children’s TV show that was set on a canal boat.

It comes after government sources briefed newspapers that migrants would be housed on ferries and barges.

The MP for Hazel Grove poured scorn over his Conservative colleagues, suggesting they were pursuing a “something must be seen to be done policy”.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick confirmed plans to house “several thousand” asylum seekers at three former military bases in the Commons on Wednesday.

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

But Wragg made a dig at the competence of his Tory colleagues which prompted laughter across the house: “My Right Honourable friend is one of the abler ministers in the Home Office, so it makes sense for him to give this statement this afternoon.”

He went on to liken their approach to Gerald Ratner – the famous businessman who publicly badmouthed jewellery made by his company.

Wragg went on: “Is he though as concerned as I am with a Gerald Ratner approach to the government’s immigration policy, whereby it simply spends its time highlighting the problems rather than some of the work it is undertaking.

Tory MP William Wragg

NurPhoto via Getty Images

“Is he aware that the primary concern for most people is to ensure that the backlog of asylum applications is dealt with at a pace…and decisions more importantly as they were in 2015.

“Could I also caution him that even worse than a Gerald Ratner approach to government policy on this is a ‘something must seen to be done policy’ which might bring forward this Rosie and Jim idea of barges all over the place.”

Jenrick faced criticism from other Tory MPs including former home secretary Priti Patel who suggested the disused RAF Wethersfield, near her Witham constituency, would not be a suitable location due to a lack of infrastructure and amenities.

Jackie Doyle-Price, a former business minister, questioned whether proposals to house migrants on barges could harm port-based businesses.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax said the use of boats or barges is “totally and utterly out of the question”, and will exacerbate existing problems “ten-fold”.

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