The Greens have hit back in a row over dozens of missing child refugees after a whistle-blower told The Observer that some had been kidnapped from outside a hotel in Hove.
The Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council said: “The comments made today by Labour are inaccurate.
“In response to the callous and cruel policies of the Tory Home Office, Green Party councillors have consistently and persistently raised our outrage with for 18 months.
“And yet Labour councillors have only recently woken up to the situation, evidently seeing there is a local council election on the horizon.
“We want to be clear: the people with the keys to solving this problem are the Tory government and we once again call on them to solve it.
“We continue to raise our concerns with the Home Office’s use of hotels throughout the country. This is something we have done in discussions with ministers, civil servants, community and voluntary sector organisations, through broadcast interviews and with asylum-seeker communities in the city.
“Labour are trying to blame Brighton and Hove City Council for the dreadful way the Home Office is failing unaccompanied asylum-seeker children (UASC). However, one single council is not to blame for these failures.
“These children are under the supposed care of the Home Office and the city council doesn’t have the powers to stop the Home Office using hotels.
“Playing party politics about the plight of desperate people says much more about those using this opportunistically to attack Green councillors instead of attacking the government for their failed immigration policy.
“Labour are almost certainly wanting to distract from their own anti-asylum-seeker policy. This includes Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper criticising the Tories for not deporting enough immigrants and Labour’s Leader, Keir Starmer, arguing for the electronic tagging of asylum-seekers.
“The more that Labour agree with the Tory narrative and blame the council, the more the Home Office gets away with its shameful practices.
“Refugee children disappearing is sadly a horrific problem and is happening across the country, at councils regardless of their political leadership. Labour in their actions in fact help to demonise asylum-seekers rather than trying to fix the problem.
“We have requested a meeting with ministers and will use this to again demand they fix the situation and end the use of hotel accommodation in Brighton and Hove and the rest of the country.
“We also believe that the Home Office must urgently provide reassurance that the police have the resources to find these children.
“We will never stop standing up for the rights and welfare of these vulnerable children.”