A Middlesbrough Labour MP has hit out at 'divisive' proposals to house 1,000 asylum seekers on a barge off the coast of Teesside.

MP Andy McDonald has condemned the “out of touch” plans that could see hundreds of asylum seekers moored in a large vessel on the coast of Middlesbrough near the Teesport.

The vessels, part of a government manifesto pledge to ‘stop the boats’, were first confirmed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on June 5 in a conference in Kent, as The Guardian reported a possible location for one of the barges could be on Teesside.

Read more: Plans to house 1,000 asylum seekers on Middlesbrough barge

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald has now criticised the barges as he calls upon the government to focus on other issues.

He said: “Yet more divisive culture war stunts from this out of touch, out of steam, out of ideas government. The sooner they are out of office the better.

“We’d all be better served if they got on with the business of government and processed people seeking asylum with professionalism, efficiency and humanity.”        

Fellow Labour MP Alex Cunningham, who serves Stockton North, called the plans “disappointing” as he states the Teesport would not be an “acceptable” place to house people.

The Northern Echo:

Labour’s comments come as Conservative MP’s, including Redcar MP Jacob Young, maintain the government is taking “robust action” to crack down on illegal immigration but suggests a vessel of this kind could be better moored elsewhere.

Mr Young said: “I think these barges are a better solution than spending taxpayers’ money on expensive hotels, but there are right places and wrong places for such barges.

“Redcar is the wrong place and I will not allow it to come here. However, given these local Labour MPs have voted against every bill to try stop the boats, maybe the barge should go in one of their constituencies.”

Despite the rows, local authorities have admitted they have had no formal confirmation from government officials that a vessel of this kind could be placed in Middlesbrough.

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The Northern Echo:

Both the office of Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the Leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, Alec Brown, have admitted the government has not contacted either authority to discuss the plans.

Mr Brown then went on to compare the conditions of the barges to the “Victorian era”, and confirmed he is against the government housing asylum seekers in this way.

The Government's first barge of the scheme will moor off the coast of Dorset coast in two weeks’ time - but the Prime Minister failed to officially confirm in his conference where the two new barges will be docked.

Other contenders to host barges across the UK include Essex, Liverpool, Suffolk and the Royal London docks.