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If voted to power, will scrap Rwanda scheme: UK Labour leader Keir Starmer

Labour Party will scrap the Rwanda scheme to partly fund a new “elite” border unit to 'smash' people smuggling gangs to tackle small boats crossing the English Channel.
Last Updated : 10 May 2024, 13:52 IST
Last Updated : 10 May 2024, 13:52 IST

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London: If voted to power in the next election, the Labour Party will “replace gimmicks with graft” by scrapping the Rwanda scheme to partly fund a new “elite” border unit to 'smash' people smuggling gangs to tackle small boats crossing the English Channel, UK's Labour leader, Keir Starmer said on Friday.

On April 23, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed the passage of his government’s controversial Safety of Rwanda Bill by Parliament overnight and pledged that nothing would stand in the way of illegal migrants being flown out to the African country.

Sunak has made stopping such boats from making dangerous journeys across the Channel one of his priorities ahead of a general election expected later this year.

Starmer’s announcement comes after his shadow health secretary Wes Streeting claimed more Tory MPs were considering defecting to Labour because of “division and incompetence” in Rishi Sunak’s government, claiming to have spoken to others “who are wrestling with their future.”

In a speech at Dover, a coastal town in England’s southeastern Kent county, the Labour leader set out plans to use new counter-terrorism powers to tackle people-smuggling gangs and accused the Conservatives of operating a “Travelodge amnesty” by housing asylum-seekers in hotels rather than processing their claims.

BBC reported that Starmer announced plans to use counter-terror powers to “smash” people smuggling gangs, if he wins power. “The Labour leader said he will establish a new Border Security Command with specialist officers to tackle small boats crossing the Channel,” the report said.

Earlier this week, Natalie Elphicke, who represents the constituency of Dover, defected to the main opposition Labour Party ahead of a looming general election.

Dover is at the front line of migrant crossings from France.

Meanwhile, British Home Secretary, James Cleverly said, “Labour have no plan to stop the boats.”

“Labour has an illegal immigration amnesty,” he said in a statement. “Labour blocked the deportation of violent sexual offenders and Labour voted over 130 times against tougher legislation to stop the boats.

“They will create a haven for criminal gangs, not stop them. Even Labour MPs are saying Labour can’t be trusted to stop the boats, which shows you nothing will change.

“If people can apply for asylum from outside the UK, then unlimited claims can be made, many of which will have to be accepted under the law and even then, many of those declined will then get on a small boat anyway.

“Labour’s announcement would make the UK the asylum capital of the world,” Cleverly added.

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Published 10 May 2024, 13:52 IST

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