Priti Patel was accused of ‘dropping a bomb’ on rural Yorkshire 8last night after villagers learned they face being outnumbered by young male asylum seekers.
Residents in the 1,000-strong community of Linton-on-Ouse, near York, are seething after discovering their disused RAF airbase will soon house 1,500 young men seeking refuge in Britain, mostly from Iraq, Iran and Syria.
He pledged to consider every way of reversing the decision, including possibly funding a judicial review, but Hambleton Council would first need to look at the facts.
‘We have been ambushed – just like you,’ he told the meeting.
Locals also felt powerless to move out, as local house prices were already collapsing.
One woman stormed: ‘Nobody is going to buy anything around here. It sounds like a done deal – and it’s an absolute disgrace.’
Home Office bigwigs also made clear that the refugees will be free to come and go provided they observe a nightly curfew.
They admitted there was nothing to stop them getting on a bus and disappearing – although they could do that now from bed and breakfast accommodation and it would wreck their asylum hopes.
But Patel’s team could do nothing to allay some residents’ fears over safety.
The three-hour meeting was punctuated by jeers, groans, and shouting as the residents vented their frustration.
One woman told the crowd: ‘I have lived in an area of Hull where these people were being housed and it got to the point where you dare not go out on your own.’
While the officials assured her that her fears were unfounded, they were shared by others present.
One father protested: ‘I moved here six months ago for a quite family life. I have got a four-year-old boy and a baby eight weeks old.
We moved here for the village life. Now my family is going to be prisoners in their own home while everyone else can roam about doing what they like.’
At present, the village is policed by a community policing team. North Yorkshire Police will beef up cover but insist they must adopt a measured approach and see what problems occur.
Villagers emerged from the meeting saying nothing had been said during the three hours that had reassured them in any way whatsoever.
Homeowner Greg Cox, 47, said: ‘They have sent the monkeys to answer the questions rather than the organ grinder.
‘The average age in the village is about 40. There is nowt here. They have depended on the air base for the economy.’
Taff Morgan, 67, said: ‘What’s at stake is our way of life in the village. The Home Office need to got back and say ‘We have made a mistake’.’
‘We have had weasel words from those in power. I am not racist. But this is just so wrong for this village. It is incredible how they have done this.’
Karen Cox, 51, said: ‘We are losing our freedom by them coming here. It just feels so underhand how they have gone about it.
‘Why can’t they send someone here who can answer our questions? Why don’t they send Priti Patel?’
In a tweet on Wednesday local MP Kevin Hollinrake said he had demanded the asylum seeker plan be reversed in a letter to Priti Patel.
It comes as the former head of then UK’s Border Force told the Mail that 100,000 Channel migrants will reach Britain this year.
Former director general of UK Border Force Tony Smith said: ‘There comes a point where we need to get a grip of our border and stop the boats.
‘The numbers are going up, a fourfold increase already this year – 28,500 last year,’ Mr Smith told the Mail at an immigration event by think-tank Policy Exchange.
‘That’s going to be over 100,000 this year just by migrant boats alone.’
Mr Smith’s prediction would be nearly 12 times the level seen in 2020, 54 times that of 2019 and more than 300 times that in 2018.
So far this year 6,693 migrants have reached the UK across the Channel – four times that seen by the same point last year.
There were 651 arrivals last Wednesday, a level not seen last year until the calm summer months.
In January, it emerged that the Home Office had produced official papers warning that 65,000 migrants could cross this year.
The number of crossings has since outstripped this.
A spokesperson for Home Office said ‘we do not recognise these figures’, while the Government announced its Rwanda scheme last week.