Home » Labour unveils counter-terror plan to combat small boat crossings
National News Politics

Labour unveils counter-terror plan to combat small boat crossings

KEIR STARMER has unveiled his strategy to combat people smuggling gangs using counter-terror measures, should he come into power.

The Labour leader outlined his proposal to establish a dedicated Border Security Command, equipped with specialist officers, aimed at addressing the challenge posed by small boats crossing the Channel.

Sir Keir disclosed these plans during an event in Dover, alongside local MP Natalie Elphicke, who made headlines by defecting from the Conservatives to Labour just last Wednesday.

In response, the Conservatives dismissed the proposals as a mere “re-branding” of existing government initiatives.

Ms Elphicke, speaking ahead of Labour’s policy launch in Dover, took aim at her former party leader, criticising Rishi Sunak’s perceived failure in addressing the small boat issue. She emphasised the urgent need for a fresh approach prioritising robust border security.

Sir Keir has also committed to scrapping the government’s recent legislation to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda, which has faced legal challenges delaying its implementation.

Despite acknowledging potential government efforts to proceed with deportation flights to Rwanda, Sir Keir argued that the fundamental asylum system needs reconstruction, emphasising a significant reduction in illegal immigration into the UK.

When pressed on his stance regarding small boat crossings, the Labour leader asserted a desire for their complete cessation, highlighting Labour’s commitment to restoring effective governance at the borders and permanently replacing the Rwanda policy.

Labour intends to allocate £75 million from the budget earmarked for the Rwanda scheme in its initial year to establish the new Border Security Command. This setup would mirror the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism implemented during the previous Labour administration, consolidating agencies such as the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement, the CPS, and MI5.

Under Labour’s proposals, counter-terror powers would be broadened to encompass organised immigration offences. This includes authority to search suspects of people smuggling, impose banking restrictions, limit travel, and monitor individuals’ movements pre-emptively.

online casinos UK

Former counter-terror chief Neil Basu commended Sir Keir’s practical policy initiatives in bolstering collaborative efforts among agencies dealing with these complex challenges.

In contrast, Peter Walsh of Oxford University’s Migration Observatory expressed scepticism, noting the similarities between Labour’s plan and the existing Small Boats Operational Command.

Both major parties have exchanged accusations of fostering an “amnesty” for illegal migrants, with Labour clarifying that their plan allows asylum applications for those arriving via small boats, in contrast to the current ban under the Illegal Migration Act.

Labour’s initiative has been scrutinised for its potential to significantly impact the ongoing issue, although critics remain cautious pending detailed implementation specifics.

Statistics from the Home Office reveal a substantial rise in Channel crossings this year, with nearly 9,000 individuals having made the journey so far, a 32% increase compared to last year.

Labour’s Border Security Command proposal entails recruiting additional specialist investigators and cross-border police, overseen by a former police, military, or intelligence leader reporting directly to the Home Secretary.

In response, Home Secretary James Cleverly criticised the Labour strategy for lacking deterrence against illegal migration, challenging Labour’s ability to execute return agreements with specific countries.

A source closely associated with Mr Cleverly accused Sir Keir of recycling old proposals as a “new plan,” highlighting perceived deficiencies in Labour’s approach.