The Government was last night accused of ‘completely losing the plot’ over its immigration policy after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak proposed the use of barracks at Catterick Garrison in his North Yorkshire seat to house asylum seekers.

Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, also announced on Wednesday he is “continuing to explore the possibility” of using ferries and barges to reduce the “eye watering” reliance on hotels.

Despite opposition from within the Cabinet, he confirmed that up to 3,700 people will be housed at RAF Wethersfield in Essex and RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, with an extra 1,200 going to a separate site in East Sussex.

The third location is a former prison in Bexhill that went on to be used as a training facility by the United Arab Emirates, the PA news agency learned.

The Northern Echo: Catterick Garrison, Richmond, North Yorkshire. Picture: Sarah Caldecott, NewsquestCatterick Garrison, Richmond, North Yorkshire. Picture: Sarah Caldecott, Newsquest (Image: Sarah Caldecott, Newsquest)

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Mr Jenrick said Mr Sunak was “bringing forward proposals” to use the Catterick Garrison barracks to house asylum seekers in his constituency to show “leadership”.

Last night, however, Cllr Stuart Parsons, leader of the independents on North Yorkshire County Council, said the Government had “completely lost the plot”.

He added: “Housing Asylum seekers like this will in no way help them to process applications and will do nothing to resolve the issues around the Asylum system – or lack of one.

“Great Britain needs to welcome and integrate those seeking asylum not putting them in mass single-sex holding pens.”

The Northern Echo: 'Welcome to Catterick Garrison'. Picture: The Northern Echo'Welcome to Catterick Garrison'. Picture: The Northern Echo (Image: The Northern Echo)

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Charities said the military accommodation is “grossly inadequate” to house people who have fled war.

Senior Conservative Sir Edward Leigh responded by saying an injunction will be sought against the “thoroughly bad decision” in Lincolnshire, after a similar threat came from Essex.

Mr Jenrick told the Commons the Government remained committed to its “legal obligations” to house the destitute but said “we’re not prepared to go further”.

The Northern Echo: Rishi Sunak at the Darlington hustings debate in August 2022. Picture: The Northern EchoRishi Sunak at the Darlington hustings debate in August 2022. Picture: The Northern Echo (Image: The Northern Echo)

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“Accommodation for migrants should meet their essential living needs and nothing more. Because we cannot risk becoming a magnet for the millions of people who are displaced and seeking better economic prospects,” he said.

The minister insisted the sites are “undoubtedly in the national interest” and said “single adult males” only will be forced into the barracks, as he seeks to reduce a hotel bill he put at £2.3 billion a year.

Using repurposed barrack blocks and portacabins, Scampton and Wethersfield will be used to accommodate around 200 people initially before capacity “gradually” increases.

Sir Edward, a former minister who represents Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, said using the former home of the Dambusters RAF squadron could jeopardise a £300 million regeneration project.

Addressing Mr Jenrick, the MP said: “I can inform him that the moment this is confirmed the local authority in West Lindsey will issue an immediate judicial review and injunction against this thoroughly bad decision which is not based on good governance but the politics of trying to do something.”

The Refugee Council said it was “deeply concerned” by the plans, saying the suggested accommodation is “entirely unsuitable” to the needs of asylum seekers.

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Enver Solomon, the charity’s chief executive, said: “These sites are wholly inadequate places to house vulnerable men, women and children who have come to our country in search of safety.

“We must ensure that people fleeing war, conflict and persecution can access safe, dignified, and appropriate accommodation while in the UK asylum system.

“They are also unworkable and will add yet more cost and chaos to the system.”