One of the first to arrive on the government refugee ship yesterday praised it despite groans from Labor and lawyers.
32-year-old Iranian Amir eats a breakfast of eggs,and bread on the Bibby Stockholm and said, “It’s alright, I like it.”
An Algerian added: “It’s good. It is normal. The food was good. The bed was good.”
Critics claim the barge off Portland, Dorset, is a “floating prison” and are taking legal action to deny entry to asylum seekers.
Amir was the first of 15 migrants to board the 500-passenger ship.
He also took a free bus and spent two hours in Weymouth before driving back.
More single men will be checking in this week. Activists accused the ministers of “re-traumatizing” torture victims.
But a YouGov poll found that the public, excluding “don’t know,” was 68 percent in favor of it, compared to 32 percent in favor of it.
The Home Office has threatened to scrap the migrants’ taxpayer-funded shelters unless they board the barge.
Steve Smith of Care4Calais, which has blocked the transfer of 20 asylum seekers, said the threat to make its clients homeless “smacks of a complete lack of compassion”.
But Attorney General Alex Chalk said such a move would be legal and would hit back at “crazy” activists trying to thwart the government’s efforts.
He said: “Your arguments are wrong. It’s opportunistic.”
And he said a migrant’s claim that he was afraid of water was an “ambitious argument”.
Portland Labor Mayor Carralyn Parkes said the use of the barge was “cruel” although the party had admitted it would keep the ship if elected.
Jill Lewis of Beyond Borders Totnes in Devon calls for a rethink.
She said: “These men carry grief within them. Nobody wanted to leave their mothers, wives or children.”
Stand Up To Racism Dorset staff boarded the ship yesterday with goods for its new residents.