Speaking in a ‘virtual’ plenary this week Mr. Hamilton, leader of UKIP Wales, and a member of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs committee, told Wales’ First Minister that the Welsh Government were more likely to be listened to if they worked at building good relations with the UK Government rather than being ‘confrontational and obstructive’.
Mr. Hamilton said: “The Welsh Government, quite rightly, protested to the UK Government that a disused army camp in a small village like Penally, in Pembrokeshire, is an unsuitable place to dump 140 illegal immigrants from the shores of Kent. However, their protests seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
“They are more likely to be listened to if they worked at building good relations with the UK Government rather than being confrontational and obstructive, as they were over Brexit.
“The Welsh Government has compounded this problem by its virtue-signalling policy of Wales as a ‘nation of sanctuary’ for illegal asylum seekers.
“It seems that the UK Government has simply taken the Welsh Government at its word in Penally. Because of their poor relations with each other, both Governments have failed the people of Pembrokeshire.”
Mr. Hamilton, who has campaigned against the repurposing of the former army camp, and last month attended one of the protests outside the facility to address a crowd of anti asylum seeker protestors, continued: “The Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru voted in the Senedd to make Wales a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ open to all-comers. The community of Penally did not vote for mass immigration or migrant camps on their doorstep.
“It should be noted these people are not asylum-seekers but economic migrants and the law says asylum seekers must seek refuge in the first safe country they enter.
“They all come here from other EU countries, so they are not entitled to asylum in the UK,” he added.
In response, Mr. Drakeford said that he entirely rejected Mr. Hamilton’s ‘deliberately inflammatory words’ on the matter.
“These are not dumped illegal immigrants, they are human beings, with a right to a life every bit as much as he has, or anyone of us in the Senedd has either,” remarked the First Minister.
“It’s utterly unacceptable to me he should try to smear people who through no choice of their own find themselves being moved to deeply unsuitable accommodation.
“The Welsh Government has attempted throughout to influence a decision that is entirely in the hands of the UK Government, to influence it so that setting is not used, and if it is to be used, then the services are there to make sure that the individuals who are housed there can be properly looked after, and that the legitimate concerns of the local community are properly addressed.
“The utterly insensitive handling of the Home Office lies at the route of the difficulties that are being experienced, and that’s where the responsibility begins and ends.
“The Welsh Government will speak up for people who find themselves in that position, because we are a nation of sanctuary and will go on being a nation of sanctuary - and that extends not just to people who we happen to like, but it happens to be for people whoever they are and wherever they come for, and that is the difference between the philosophy of my party, and the sort of stoney-hearted view of the world that the member continually parades in front of us whenever he has the opportunity,” Mr. Drakeford went onto tell Mr. Hamilton.
Last month, Mr. Drakeford once again called on the UK Government and Home Office to end the use of the camp at Penally as an ‘Asylum Accommodation Centre’ as ‘quickly as possible’, speaking of his ‘grave concerns’ relating to the site’s suitability.
“The welfare and safety of asylum seekers on site must not be compromised, and the wellbeing of the local community must be treated as priority by the Home Office,” said Mr. Drakeford.
“I have explained our concerns on multiple occasions, and called on the Home Office to close the site. Their failure to act is not acceptable. The use of the camp must end as quickly as possible.
“Home Office has a duty to intervene, and must not ignore the legitimate concerns which are being raised by every party involved.”
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