Marco Longhi raises fear of repeat of historic Dudley riots
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A Tory MP has pleaded with Home Secretary Suella Braverman to reconsider requisitioning a hotel in the centre of his constituency to house illegal migrants amid fears it will spark a rise in far-right violence. Dudley North MP Marco Longhi made his appeal during Home Office questions amid growing concerns over the way hotels up and down the country are being filled to tackle the migrant crisis.
Mr Longhi, a prominent Tory MP from the 2019 intake among the group who helped topple Labour’s Red Wall, was among many backbenchers who want the Home Secretary to get on with deporting illegal migrants to Rwanda.
Hopes are high the scheme can at last get off the ground after the High Court ruled on Monday the proposal is legal.
But Mr Longhi is among a number of MPs furious that illegal migrants are being put in his constituency as the Home Office requesitions hotels.
During Home Office questions, he raised the issue of the far-right targeting his constituency in the past and concerns that putting illegal migrants in a hotel just 100 yards from the scenes of riots could see a repeat of recent history.
He said: “In 2010 and 2015, Dudley town centre was the scene of some very ugly riots, with the British National party, the National Front and the English Defence League converging on the town centre.
“On that basis alone, will the Home Secretary ask her officials to reconsider the proposals for siting up to 144 illegal immigrants in a hotel not 100 yards away from this location?”
The question was directed at Ms Braverman, but was instead answered by her deputy Robert Jenrick, the migration minister.
He said: “As a result of the good work undertaken by the Home Office in recent weeks to ensure that the Manston site in Kent is operating appropriately, we have now been able to implement some simple criteria, including risk to public order or disorder, when choosing new hotels.
“If there is compelling evidence in that regard, it should be taken into account by the Home Office, but there are no easy choices in this matter.”
But he added: “The UK is essentially full, and it is extremely hard to find new hotels or other forms of accommodation.”
Pressure has been put on the Home Office to find an alternative to the military base Manston after an extremist tried to set fire to it and reports emerged the centre was overcrowded.
In 2015, Dudley was the focus of far-right activity including a protest of more than 100 people and targeting of worshippers at a local mosque.
Mr Longhi has tried to ensure community cohesion, but has identified illegal migration as a serious flashpoint.
Concerns over migration being out of control are also fuelling centre-right rivals to the Tories in Red Wall seats.
Parties like Richard Tice’s Reform UK on the centre-right are emerging as alternatives to the Conservatives with 5 to 9 points in different polls, threatening to split the vote as Labour tries to win back seats.
In her statement on the Rwanda court ruling, Ms Braverman acknowledged that concerns over migration should not be sneered at.
She said: “For decades the British people were told that this was immoral and that their concerns and opinions did not matter. Even today we see from certain quarters an unhealthy contempt for anyone who wants controlled migration.
“Such an attitude is unhelpful. Moreover, it is fanciful. We do not have infinite capacity. Already we are struggling to accommodate new arrivals, meaning that we spend millions every day in hotel bills alone.”
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