Suella Braverman has provoked a political storm with her comments about rough sleepers in tents.
Moderate Conservatives accused the home secretary of “ill thought out policies that divide” after she confirmed the controversial move.
Braverman accused rough sleepers who use tents for shelter of “living on the streets as a lifestyle choice”.
She said: “Unless we step in now to stop this, British cities will go the way of places in the US like San Francisco and Los Angeles, where weak policies have led to an explosion of crime, drug taking, and squalor.”
But the Tory Reform Group - which includes senior party figures such as Damian Green, Ken Clarke, John Major and Robert Buckland - condemned the home secretary’s remarks.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter) they said: “The UK’s streets are not being taken over by tents. We are not San Francisco.
“If this is a sign to come of the King’s Speech, it is a missed opportunity for the government to focus on those issues that really matter to voters - not ill thought out policies which divide.”
The UK’s streets are not being taken over by tents. We are not San Francisco.
If this is a sign to come of the King’s Speech, it is a missed opportunity for the Government to focus on those issues that really matter to voters.
Not ill thought out policies which divide. https://t.co/EwFKQcfmOw
— TRG (@ToryReformGroup) November 4, 2023
Braverman has also come under fire from opposition politicians, with Manchester mayor Andy Burnham describing her plans as “frankly abhorrent”.
Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael said: “It is a new low for Braverman to criminalise homeless charities for simply trying to keep vulnerable people warm and dry in winter.
“The British public raise millions of pounds for homeless people at this time of year, and the government’s response is to criminalise those charities trying to help.
“This policy will do nothing to stop rough sleeping and will leave vulnerable people to face the harsh weather conditions without any shelter whatsoever.”
On Sky News this morning, deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden defended Braverman by claiming her comments - in a series of four posts on X - had been taken out of context.
He said: “If you look at what she said, she did talk about addressing push factors as well.
“And if we get to a position where those factors are removed, I do think the tents and other things that that we see on our streets are not acceptable if we’ve got somewhere else for these people to go.”