The SNP has criticised the director of an influential Labour thinktank after he suggested people traffickers should be put on a barge and shipped up to Scotland.

During a discussion on LBC the UK Government’s Rwanda plan, Josh Simons from Labour Together said had seen “no real evidence” that Rishi Sunak was was “being tough on the borders and beefing up the policing and so on.”

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

The SNP’s Stewart McDonald hit out at Mr Simons’ comments. He said a "great many" people would care.

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Taking to X, the site formerly known as Twitter, the MP wrote: “The mask slips - showing that Labour's decades old arrogance when it comes to Scotland has never gone away. 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.”

Former Labour MSP, Neil Findlay tweeted: “Who is this clown?”

Labour Together, formed in 2015, is close to the party’s front bench, working with key figures including Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

They are bankrolled by several high-profile donors, including hedge fund boss Martin Taylor, and businessman and former RAC chairman, Sir Trevor Chinn.

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The row follows a tough night for the Prime Minister's flagship Bill in the House of Lords.

One Tory peer accused the government of behaving like “despots and autocracies” over the draft legislation aimed at clearing the way to put asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats on a one-way flight to Kigali.

Lord Tugendhat, whose nephew is security minister Tom Tugendhat, said: “What we are being asked to do really represents the sort of behaviour that the world associates with despots and autocracies, not with an established democracy, not with the Mother of Parliaments. It is a Bill we should not even be asked to confront, let alone pass.”

Conservative peer Viscount Hailsham, who previously served in the Commons as Douglas Hogg, said: “We should not put onto the face of a Bill a statement which is manifestly untrue… The truth is that the safety of Rwanda is the opinion of the Government.”

He added: “We are in fact using a statutory and untrue pronouncement to reverse a recent finding by the Supreme Court.”

Signalling his support for the Bill, former Conservative party leader Lord Howard of Lympne challenged the suggestion the Supreme Court’s decision on Rwanda’s safety “was a finding of fact”, instead claiming it was “finding of opinion”.

He told peers: “In my view when the Supreme Court reaches a conclusion on a matter of opinion, it is entirely legitimate and entirely proper constitutionally for Parliament democratically accountable to the people as the House of Commons is and the Supreme Court is not, entirely proper for Parliament to substitute its own opinion.”

Meanwhile, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights said the proposed Rwanda legislation was “fundamentally incompatible” with the UK’s human rights obligations and would flout international law.