Controversial plans for a new asylum centre in North Yorkshire appear to have been scrapped after defence secretary Ben Wallace said the offer of a former RAF base for the site has been “withdrawn”.
Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake, told CSW's sister title PoliticsHome he is “over the moon” that the former base in Linton-on-Ouse was no longer being proposed as accommodation for as many as 1,500 asylum seekers.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Rishi Sunak said this week that he would scrap the plans if he became prime minister. But Wallace, who has backed Sunak's rival Liz Truss in the leadership race, said he had “obligations to do something else” with the site.
“Because he’s not in government he won’t know what’s been going on and I’ve withdrawn the offer to the Home Office for that site," Wallace told broadcasters when asked about Sunak’s comments yesterday.
He said the offer had been with the department "for a number of months".
“I have obligations to do something else with that site and there are other sites that have been made available to the Home Office if they wish to take it up.”
He reiterated: “I have withdrawn the offer of that site to the Home Office, it was I think one of five sites we offered at the time when Rishi Sunak was in government and he was certainly supportive of it at the time.”
Hollinrake had opposed the plans for the asylum detention centre to be based at RAF Linton-On-Ouse. “That’s an end to the matter really, which I’m absolutely over the moon about,” he told PoliticsHome.
“You cannot overstate the amount of anxiety and fear that there was in that community, so to have this massive burden lifted off their shoulders today must be an immense relief.”
The news comes ahead of Sunak and fellow leadership candidate Liz Truss speaking at a leadership hustings in Darlington this evening.
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.
Caitlin Doherty is a reporter at CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared