Keir Starmer Pledges to End Rwanda Asylum Scheme Immediately

Keir Starmer Pledges to End Rwanda Asylum Scheme Immediately

Labour leader Keir Starmer announced that he would scrap the Rwanda asylum scheme immediately if elected, using the saved funds to hire specialist investigators to tackle small boat Channel crossings. He also proposed using counter-terror powers to combat people smuggling gangs.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the government’s plan, stating that they have already recruited additional police for this purpose. Speaking to broadcasters, Sunak said, “We’ve got a plan, and we’re going to get our planes off.”

Starmer revealed new details of his plan in Dover alongside local MP Natalie Elphicke, who recently defected from the Conservatives to Labour. Elphicke criticized her former party, claiming that “nowhere is Rishi Sunak’s lack of delivery clearer than on the issue of small boats.”

Starmer plans to establish a new Border Security Command to collaborate with Border Force, MI5, and the National Crime Agency on prosecuting gangs operating small boat routes. This unit would be led by a former police, military, or intelligence chief, reporting directly to the home secretary.

Starmer argued that scrapping the Rwanda scheme would free up £75m in the first year of a Labour government to hire hundreds of extra investigators and “intelligence agents.” He has already pledged to cancel the government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda, which was passed into law last month and is due to begin by mid-July.

The government maintains that the scheme will deter people smugglers and those attempting to cross the Channel illegally, but Labour argues that it will not work and is a waste of money.

When asked about his goals for reducing small boat crossings, Starmer did not set a specific figure but expressed a desire to see levels drop “dramatically.” He also announced plans to expand powers under the Blair-era Terrorism Act to enable police to search people suspected of people smuggling and to restrict their access to the internet, banking, and travel.

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