Move to counter-terror policing model to tackle people smugglers, Starmer urges
He said the Government had “totally lost control” of the small-boat situation, and closer cooperation with European policing services was required.
On a visit with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, he said he was prepared to do a deal with Brussels which would involve the UK taking a quota of asylum seekers who arrive in the bloc in exchange for the ability to return people who cross the English Channel.
The Government said yesterday Labour wanted to turn the UK into a “dumping ground” for 100,000 migrants from the EU every year - something dismissed by Labour as “nonsense”.
Speeding up data and intelligence sharing with Europe as part of a new post-Brexit security pact and strengthening powers to restrict the movement of those suspected of organised immigration crime would also form part of Sir Keir’s plan.
But the Tories seized on the suggestion that he would be prepared to negotiate with Brussels, with Rishi Sunak claiming the plans could result in 100,000 EU migrants coming to the UK every year.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said Sir Keir would let the UK become a “dumping ground” for Europe’s migrants.
But Sir Keir said the response was “typical from a Government that’s completely lost control of the situation”.
“It’s embarrassing that the Government is pumping out this nonsense,” he said.
“I can only assume it’s because they’ve got nothing sensible to say on the issue.”
As part of its plans, Labour says it would work to reach a new agreement to share real-time intelligence with the EU similar to the Schengen Information System II, a database of terror suspects and immigration offenders which the UK had automatic access to before Brexit.
The party has also vowed to strengthen powers to restrict the movement of people smugglers by making it quicker and easier to obtain civil orders, known as serious crime prevention orders, which are used to target offenders such as terrorists and drug traffickers.
More British officers would be stationed in Europe under the plans, with a “cross-border police force” focused solely on disrupting criminal gangs, Labour said.
In an interview with The Times newspaper, Sir Keir said he would also seek an EU-wide returns agreement for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain, which may involve a “quid pro quo” of accepting quotas of migrants from the bloc.
“That would be part of any discussions and negotiations with Europe,” he told The Times.
He would not be drawn on the number of asylum seekers he would be happy to take in under a deal with the European Union.
The Labour leader said his main aim was ensuring that people did not make it across the English Channel in the first place.
“I’ve been exploring today at Europol with police teams, with prosecutorial teams whether we can get a closer agreement that would allow us to share information more quickly, to have joint operations to take down those that are running this vile trade by stopping those boats getting in the water in the first place,” he told reporters in The Hague.