THE director of the Labour Together think tank is facing widespread criticism for his suggestion that smuggler gangs should be put on a barge and sent to Scotland.

During an interview with LBC, Josh Simons suggested that the UK Government’s Rwanda plan was failing and gave his own solution to the “small boats crisis”.

He explained his concern with the Rwanda plan is not actually the “human rights” implications but rather was about the economic impact.

Simons then added: “Why don’t you send the smuggler gangs and put them on the barge that has been set aside for the asylum seekers and then, you know, ship the barge up to the north of Scotland - who cares?”

SNP MP Stewart McDonald was among those to criticise Simons, writing on Twitter/X: “The mask slips – showing that Labour’s decades old arrogance when it comes to Scotland has never gone away.

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“Now the director of Labour Together thinks Scotland should be a dumping ground for people traffickers. ‘Who cares?’ he asks. I think a great many will care.”

The tweet was reposted by First Minister Humza Yousaf while political commentator Gerry Hassan was also among those to criticise the comments.

The National: Humza Yousaf

“In a bad week for the Labour Party these are repulsive, dehumanising comments from a Labour insider about asylum seekers,” Hassan said.

“And to boot he throws in insensitive comments about Scotland – where Labour are desperate to target and win seats from the SNP.”

SNP MP Pete Wishart said on Twitter/X: "Labour finally have a policy that they haven't U-turned on yet..."

Elsewhere, SNP MP Alison Thewliss added: "That Labour respect agenda for Scotland in full flow... and it's not even the first time they've made a suggestion like this over the years."

Meanwhile, director of the Modern Money Scotland think tank Cameron Archibald said: “This is a perfect example of Labour’s attitude to Scotland and immigration. They see Scotland as a cheaper version of Rwanda where they can just ship all their problems away.

The National:

“No effort to focus on human protections for vulnerable asylum seekers, just a focus on punishment.”

Journalist and national contributor Owen Jones was also among those to criticise Simons, saying on Twitter/X: “The fact he expresses no moral objection to deporting desperate people to Rwanda is one thing.

‘The contemptuous way he talks about Scotland as though being sent there is some sort of gruesome punishment is another.

“These are the new masters of the Labour Party everyone!”