Labour’s plan to tackle illegal immigration has been blasted after Sir Keir Starmer backtracked on taking asylum-seekers from the European Union.
The Opposition leader initially said his proposal to seek an EU-wide returns deal would mean accepting some arrivals from the Continent.
However, yesterday he said the UK joining such a scheme was “complete nonsense”.
Mr Starmer told Sky News: “Let me be absolutely crystal clear about this, because the Government has been pumping out complete garbage this week in terms of the numbers that they are suggesting.”
“There is obviously an EU quota system for EU members. Well, it’s obvious we are not an EU member. We will not be part of that. We are not an EU member. This is why what the Government’s saying, it’s been complete garbage.”
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The returns agreement currently being worked on by the EU would mean each EU state would take a minimum of 30,000 migrants, or pay (20,000 euros) for each person they don’t accept.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said the U-turn was further evidence that Labour’s immigration policy is “completely falling apart”.
He said: “Starmer doesn’t have the backbone to be honest about his real position as soon as he comes under political pressure.”
“He’s still refusing to rule out a bespoke EU deal in which he’d open the door to Europe’s illegal migrants. He’s taking the British people for fools if he thinks they can’t see through him.”
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“That’s why we have struck tailored law-enforcement deals with Turkey, Italy and France, passed the toughest immigration legislation in decades and have developed the Rwanda partnership which will decisively break the smuggling gang’s business model.”
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