A U.K. Labour MP is under fire for suggesting the rape of a teenage boy at a hotel accommodating asylum seekers in northeast London last month “is what happens when you demonize migrants.”
Diane Abbott, the former shadow home secretary in ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, made the remarks in a tweet published on Thursday afternoon.
She referenced the plight of a teenage boy who was raped at a hotel housing asylum seekers in the London borough of Waltham Forest. The attack reportedly took place on Oct. 5 but has only just come to light.
“Officers attended and spoke to the victim, a boy in his teens, and his family,” a spokesperson told Sky News on Thursday. “Specialist support is being provided.
“A man, aged in his 30s, was arrested at the scene and taken into custody,” they added.
Abbott called the incident a “terrible case,” before suggesting that “it is what happens when you demonize migrants and take no responsibility for safeguarding migrant children.”
She ended the tweet by calling for the ousting of current Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
The accommodation facility in Waltham Forest is currently housing both child and adult asylum seekers. There are reportedly 150 children and 250 adults residing at the facility.
It is not known whether the children are all unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) or children who have arrived with parents.
Another incident allegedly took place at the same facility, which saw a male claiming to be aged 17 arrested on Sept. 11 and charged with one count of sexual touching of a child under 13.
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Labour MPs have called for the resignation of Braverman due to the overcrowding of facilities, including at the Manston immigration processing center in Kent, a facility that has a capacity for 1,600 people, is intended to be used solely for processing, and is currently accommodating around 3,500 asylum seekers.
Braverman has vowed to tackle the crisis, as well as bring down the cost to taxpayers for housing those awaiting processing for asylum. Her promise came after it was revealed by Home Office staff during a parliamentary select committee hearing last week that Britons are paying almost £7 million a day to house asylum seekers in hotels.
“The number of people arriving in the UK via small boats has reached record levels and continues to put our asylum system under incredible pressure,” a Home Office spokeswoman explained.
“We urge anyone who is thinking about leaving a safe country and risk their lives at the hands of criminal people smugglers to seriously reconsider. Despite what they have been told, they will not be allowed to start a new life here,” she added.
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Braverman recently described the current numbers arriving in Kent as an “invasion,” and although her rhetoric was heavily criticized by Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama on Wednesday, many supporters of Braverman say there is no other way to describe Britain’s current migration crisis. More than 12,000 of the 40,000 arrivals this year to Britain via the English Channel have originated from Albania, despite Rama admitting on Wednesday that it is a “safe country of origin.”
He suggested that rather than fuel xenophobia by highlighting the number of Albanian arrivals, the British government should better focus its efforts on securing its own borders.