Immigration plans unveiled by UK opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer would see the country become the European Union’s “dumping ground” for migrants the bloc did not want, according to British Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
Announcing the Labour Party’s new immigration policy on September 14, Sir Keir said that he would seek an EU-wide returns agreement for small-boat migrants, 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 said.
In response, Braverman tweeted: “Finally we see Sir Keir Starmer’s migration plan. He’ll let Brussels decide who comes to the UK.
“He’ll agree to make Britain the dumping ground for many of the millions of illegal migrants that Europe doesn’t want. And none of this will stop the boats.”
Quizzed by reporters on a visit to Devon in South-West England, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed Labour’s returns-deal plans could result in the UK accepting 100,000 migrants annually from the EU.
He said: “His [Starmer’s] plans today seem to amount to saying that we might one day accept 100,000 EU migrants every year – that doesn’t seem like a credible plan.”
In its bid to tackle illegal immigration, the EU is currently working on a new returns agreement that would mean each Member State takes a minimum annual quota of 30,000 migrants, or pays €20,000 for each one they do not accept.
Sir Keir said that, among other initiatives on tackling the crisis, a Labour government would treat people-smugglers as terrorists and “smash the gangs” trafficking people across The English Channel. He also vowed to deepen intelligence ties with the EU as part of a new post-Brexit security pact.
Speaking in The Hague, where he was meeting Europol officials with UK Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, the Labour leader said his main aim was ensuring that migrants did not make it across the Channel.
“The question of whether people can then be returned only applies if people are still getting across the Channel, and what I want to do is to stop this trade, stop this vile business in the first place,” he said.
“And that is about working here in Europol, working across Europe, to ensure that the criminals are brought down, that they are treated in the same way that we treat terrorists.”
Of Braverman’s claim that his plan would turn Britain into Europe’s “dumping ground” for millions of illegal migrants, Sir Keir said: “It’s embarrassing that the government is pumping out this nonsense.”