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Boris Johnson insists plans to process asylum seeks abroad is ‘humane’

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Boris Johnson has defended proposals to send asylum seekers abroad to be processed, insisting that the policy was a “humanitarian one” intended to combat people smugglers.

The British overseas territory of Gibraltar and the Isle of Man are thought to be locations being considered by officials, under Home Secretary Priti Patel’s plans to overhaul the immigration system.

But Gibraltar’s government said it had not received any proposal on the issue from the UK, and chief minister Fabian Picardo has written to Ms Patel to say it will not happen.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Isle of Man Government said it had not been contacted by the UK Government and the crown dependency’s parliament is thought to be unlikely to approve any processing centre.

The plans to process asylum seekers abroad have drawn widespread criticism but when asked about the proposals, the Prime Minister insisted the objective was to “save life and avert human misery”.

“Because people are crossing the Channel who are being fooled, who are being conned, by gangsters, into paying huge sums of money, risking their lives,” he told a Downing Street press conference.

“People have died trying to make this crossing and it is a deeply repugnant traffic that we need to stop, and that’s why the Home Secretary has set out the tough series of proposals that you have seen.

“The objective is a humanitarian one and a humane one, which is to stop the abuse of these people by a bunch of traffickers and gangsters.”

Earlier on Thursday, Downing Street did not deny the Home Office is looking at proposals of using Gibraltar and other overseas territories to process asylum seekers.

In his letter to Ms Patel, Mr Picardo said there were constitutional and legal issues, as well as the “geographic limitations” of the territory which prevented it being used to process asylum seekers.

Gibraltar / PA Archive

The chief minister said that while “we will not ever shirk our responsibility” to help Britain, “our geography makes some things difficult, however, and the processing of asylum seekers to the UK in Gibraltar would be one of them”.

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