Sturgeon told to take ‘fair share’ of Channel migrants5 min read
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Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of hypocrisy with officials told to send more migrants who arrive by boat to Scotland. Figures cited by The Sun on Sunday show 61 asylum seekers were housed in “dispersed accommodation” outside Glasgow under a scheme in March, 2022.
The same publication reports this was out of a total of 53,530 who needed somewhere to stay with Glasgow providing accommodation for 4,483 and London taking in 8,220.
Home Office ministers are reportedly furious and have ordered officials to find new hotels north of the border to house more people arriving as migrants in the UK.
A senior British Government source told the Sun on Sunday: “Nicola Sturgeon rails against our policies but refuses to take her fair share.
“Outside of Glasgow, they barely house any of the Channel boat migrants. Sturgeon has been an hypocrite. We are on the hunt for more hotels on her patch.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Asylum is reserved to the UK Parliament and it is the Home Office – not the Scottish Government – that is responsible for provision of asylum accommodation, including hotels procured as contingency initial asylum accommodation, across the United Kingdom.
“Scotland has a strong track record in supporting people seeking asylum, despite the lack of investment by the UK Government in the UK asylum system which is causing significant backlogs in processing asylum cases.”
In principle, the Scottish Government supports the widening of asylum dispersal, but believes participation by local authorities should be voluntary.
Scottish Ministers continue to urge the Home Office to improve partnership working and data and information sharing to support an effective asylum system, but say this must include working closely with COSLA and local authorities to agree dispersal widening plans.
The Scottish Government maintains people who are seeking asylum should be housed in communities with access to the support and services they need to begin to rebuild their lives.
Since the war in Ukraine began in February last year, Scotland has welcomed the highest number of refugees from Ukraine per head in the UK. This is more, proportionately, than England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Edinburgh’s Super Sponsor scheme has enabled more than 21,000 people to arrive in Scotland. This represents about 20 percent of all UK arrivals, according to the Scottish Government.
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The criticism of Ms Sturgeon comes amid reports of more crossings in 2023 than in January and February of 2022 combined. This is likely because only 143 people crossed the Channel in February 2022 due to poor weather conditions.
Analysis of Home Office and Ministry of Defence (MoD) provisional figures shows 1,180 people were brought to the UK in January 2023, compared to 1,339 in January 2022. So far, 890 people have been brought to shore in 20 boats in February 2023.
The busiest day of 2023 was January 25 when 321 people were brought to the UK in eight boats, while the busiest day on record was August 22 2022, when 1,295 people were rescued.
The latest figures come after violent protests erupted outside a hotel used to house asylum seekers in Knowsley, Merseyside, on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, a poll carried out amid controversy over the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms shows more than four in 10 voters in Scotland think Ms Sturgeon should resign.
Panelbase’s survey for the Sunday Times found that 42% of respondents thought she should stand down now, while 45% said she should remain as First Minister at until at least the next Holyrood election, and 13% didn’t know.
The poll also found that the majority of those who expressed a view had safety concerns around the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which was passed by MSPs in December and blocked by the UK Government.
The reforms would allow trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) without the need for a medical diagnosis.
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The Bill would also allow 16 and 17-year-olds to apply for a GRC for the first time, and reduce the amount of time a person has to live in their acquired gender before they can be granted the document.
Of those who expressed a view, more than three-quarters (76 percent) said they think the Scottish Government’s plans to change the law on gender recognition would pose a safety risk in women-only spaces, such as changing rooms, hospital wards and prisons. Just under a quarter (24 percent) disagreed.
Ms Sturgeon has said she intends to challenge the UK Government’s use of Section 35 to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law.
The survey of 1,415 voters in Scotland was carried out in the past week as the Scottish Prison Service published its review on the management of transgender prisoners in the wake of the Isla Bryson case.
An SNP spokesman said: “Poll after poll consistently shows Nicola Sturgeon is the most popular leader of any political party in Scotland – by a very long way – and this poll is no different.
“Polls also clearly show people across Scotland have no confidence in the Tory Party or their leadership – whether it be the unelected Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak or his lackey, Douglas Ross.”
He added: “Whether it be catastrophic economic policies or disastrous Brexit pursuits, Westminster is failing the people of Scotland and they know it.
“Families, businesses and industries across Scotland trust the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon to put them first and offer a better future as an independent country.”
A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “Public discontent with Nicola Sturgeon is rising because she’s not focused on their priorities and her values are wrong.
“She is massively out of touch with Scottish people with her flawed gender self-ID policy.
“This has led to numerous U-turns, her chronic mishandling of the transgender prisoner row and her inability to admit that a double rapist is a man.
“To make matters worse, she chose to smear those who raised concerns over the safety of women and girls, rather than accept their legitimate fears.
“All the while, her Government, which continues to be focused on its self-serving push for independence, is neglecting voters’ top priorities: the global cost-of-living crisis, a Scottish NHS on its knees and ending the damaging teacher strikes.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The Secretary of State for Scotland has made an order under section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, preventing the Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from proceeding to Royal Assent.
“This was done after thorough and careful consideration of all the relevant advice and the policy implications.
“This legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation.
“Transgender people deserve our respect, support and understanding. Our decision is about the legislation’s consequences for the operation of GB-wide equalities protections and other reserved matters.”
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