Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer greets Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover, after her defection from the Conservative Party, in the House of Commons on May 8, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)


UK’s Labour wants ‘elite’ border unit with powers to stop migrants


The UK’s opposition Labour Party appears to have mirrored the ruling Conservatives by promising strict border controls aimed at stopping boats arriving with illegal immigrants.

Keir Starmer, leader of Labour, was set to announce on May 10 an ambitious plan to crack down on people-smugglers.

The party wants to form a new Border Security Command whose leader would have a background in the police, the military or intelligence services and would be granted powers under the Counter Terrorism Act.

The new unit would be funded by diverting £75 million from the Conservative’s Rwanda migrant relocation scheme, which would be scrapped under Labour plans.

Officers with the proposed Border Security Command would be able to conduct stop-and-searches at the UK border, carry out financial investigations and issue search-and-seizure warrants targeting organised immigration crime.

Labour said it intended to hire hundreds of specialist investigators and cross-border police, if it won power in the next UK elections.

Starmer was set to make the announcement in Dover, where many migrants in boats reach British shores. It is also the constituency of MP Natalie Elphicke, who left the Conservatives to join Labour a couple of days ago, saying her former party failed to end the migrant boat crossings.

Referring to his background as the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Starmer said he would use his experience to “replace gimmicks and gestures with graft”. The text of his speech has already been seen by British media.

“Let’s be clear at the start, these are criminal enterprises we are dealing with,” the Labour chief is quoted as saying.

“A business that pits nation against nation, thrives in the grey areas of our rules, the cracks between our institutions, where, they believe, they can exploit some of the most vulnerable people in the world with impunity.

“It’s a vile trade that preys on the desperation and hope it finds in its victims.”

Starmer will reportedly talk about what he regarded as “rank incompetence” regarding immigration by the Conservative Government.

Migration was one of the major reasons the British voted to leave the European Union in a bid to take back control over its borders and policies.

The UK is today struggling with high numbers of illegal immigrants. Official estimates showed close to 30,000 reached its shores crossing the Channel in 2023.

Net migration to the UK hit a record high of 672,000 people in the year to June 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In response, the Conservative Government created the ‘Rwanda plan’ whereby illegal migrants and asylum seekers are to be relocated to Rwanda for processing, asylum and resettlement.

Those who were granted refuge would stay in the African country and would not be permitted to travel back to the UK. A certain number of the “most vulnerable refugees” now living in Rwanda would be accepted by the UK in exchange.

The plan had been held up in the courts, with judges questioning its legality. It was only recently that Parliament passed the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act, circumventing the judiciary.