Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has taken to Twitter to promise “the strongest possible opposition” to reports that Westminster is considering the Outer Hebrides as a “holding pen” for asylum seekers.

Sources told The Sun on Wednesday that Westminster was considering the Outer Hebrides as a one of a number of offshore locations for the processing of asylum seekers following a surge in migrants crossing the English Channel in 2020.

The reports were met with fierce criticism from the first minister, who tweeted:

They can rest assured that any proposal to treat human beings like cattle in a holding pen will be met with the strongest possible opposition from me.

Westminster is apparently considering a number of remote, offshore options and sparsely populated islands as detention center locations. On Tuesday, the Financial Times reported that Priti Patel, the home secretary, had looked at shipping asylum seekers to remote British islands in the south Atlantic for processing, however this was later dismissed as “implausible,” according to Home Office sources.

It was also suggested that decommissioned offshore oil rigs and disused ferries could fit the government remit. The Home Office’s most senior civil servant, Matthew Rycroft, refused to comment on the leaks but said that the department was “brainstorming” ideas. “No decisions have been taken. No final proposals have been put to ministers… this is in the realm of the brainstorming stage of a future policy,” he emphasized.

The number of migrants reaching UK shores has more than doubled this year, with over 5,000 people arriving in dinghies in the first eight months of the year. By comparison, only 1,890 arrived in the whole of 2019.

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