Tory fury after left wing charity blocks migrants boarding the Bibby Stockholm

First asylum seekers arrive on Bibby Stockholm barge

The Government has reacted with fury after left-wing activists intervened to stop migrants being moved out of expensive hotels and onto the Bibby Stockholm barge this morning.

Care4Calais released a statement, saying: “None of the asylum seekers we are supporting have gone to the Bibby Stockholm today as legal representatives have had their transfers cancelled.”

The group’s CEO, Steve Smith, described the barge as a “quasi floating prison”, adding it is “inhumane” and “unbelievably cruel” to house migrants on it.

Sources downplayed the setback, pointing out that the move by the left-wing charity is merely a pre-action protocol and nothing has been successfully lodged in the courts.

Migrants who have resisted the move will have another day to board the vessel, or the Government will consider removing their accommodation support.

READ MORE: Last-minute blow to Sunak as lawyers stop migrants moving onto barge

This afternoon a Government source reacted with fury to the news, accusing the charity of having Labour links and demonstrating the swathe of left-wing opposition they’re having to battle.

They said: “This just shows what we are up against: Labour-linked charities and lawyers are repeatedly trying to stop us from moving illegal migrants out of expensive hotels.

“Other European countries use barges safely and at lower costs than hotels.”

The source added that Labour needs to “quit trying to sabotage our plans to stop the boats”.

They said: “It’s time they backed the barge.”

Former Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel told the Express: “These campaign groups and lawyers who are milking the legal aid system, show no interest in tackling challenges caused by the number of asylum seekers coming here and the vile activities of the evil criminal gangs who smuggle them into the UK.

“They are only interested in profiteering from this human misery and showing contempt to the taxpaying law-abiding majority who rightly have said enough is enough.”

This weekend it emerged that lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie, who is helping Sir Keir Starmer draw up his party’s manifesto, is working with Care4Calais to challenge Home Office plans to deport migrants to Rwanda.

Ms McKenzie is a member of Labour’s Race Equality Taskforce and is listed as a director of Detention Action.

Labour activists are also involved with Care4Calais, including Susan Jex – a member of the charity’s board – who stood for Labour in 2021.

The group is set to speak at Labour’s conference in Liverpool.

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Tory MP Mark Jenkinson said Care4Calais are “nothing more than political activists”.

He said: “A combination of Labour politicians, lawyers and pseudo-charities, all often indistinguishable from each other, continue to try and scupper our plans to stop the boats, and now even to stop the housing of illegal migrants in expensive hotels.”

It is being represented by the legal group Duncan Lewis, which is also very close to the Labour Party, previously being photographed with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper in 2016.

In a 2018 blog post, Duncan Lewis posted a blog post explaining they would be attending Labour Conference “as legal practitioners representing clients in matters close to Labour’s heart”.

Care4Calais has been under statutory investigation by the Charity Commission for two years, over “serious governance concerns”.

The Charity Commission said the inquiry remains ongoing.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “There are people of all political parties and none involved with Care4Calais.”

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