In a bold statement, Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, has called for people-smuggling to be treated with the same severity as terrorism. He has unveiled a comprehensive plan aimed at tackling the issue and preventing small boat crossings, should Labour win the next general election.
Sir Keir believes that the government’s failure to address the criminal smuggling gangs orchestrating boat crossings is a profound threat to national security. He argues that it should be considered on par with other major security concerns, such as climate change, hostile foreign powers, and terrorism.
A New Post-Brexit Security Pact
As part of Labour’s strategy, they intend to deepen intelligence ties with Europe through a new post-Brexit security pact. This would involve sharing real-time intelligence with the European Union, similar to the Schengen Information System II, which the UK had automatic access to before Brexit.
Labour also plans to strengthen powers to restrict the movement of individuals suspected of organized immigration crime. They aim to make it quicker and easier to obtain civil orders, known as serious crime prevention orders, which are currently used to target offenders like terrorists and drug traffickers.
A Cross-Border Police Force
Labour’s plan includes stationing more British officers in Europe to disrupt criminal gangs. They propose the creation of a “cross-border police force” solely focused on tackling these gangs. By increasing cooperation and coordination, Labour aims to dismantle these smuggling networks and secure British borders.
EU-Wide Returns Agreement and Funding
Sir Keir also intends to negotiate an EU-wide returns agreement for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain. This may involve a “quid pro quo” arrangement, where Britain accepts quotas of migrants from the bloc in exchange for returning asylum seekers.
To fund these measures, Labour plans to redirect funds from the government’s Rwanda plan, which has faced legal challenges and been criticized for its impracticality. The goal is to deter Channel crossings by sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda or another “safe third country.”
Emphasizing National Security
During his visit to The Hague, Sir Keir aims to highlight his experience as the former director of public prosecutions. This underscores his commitment to taking a hard-line stance on immigration crime and convinces swing voters that Labour can be trusted to address the issue.
The escalating number of Channel crossings, surpassing 23,000 in 2023, makes tackling immigration crime a crucial issue in the run-up to the next general election. Sir Keir promises a Labour government that will be twice as ruthless in smashing criminal smuggling gangs and securing British borders.
Tory Criticisms and Future Engagements
The Conservative Party has criticized Sir Keir’s proposals, accusing him of voluntarily accepting more illegal migrants from the EU. They argue that his ideas would weaken existing tough measures and fail to address the long-term decisions required to tackle the issue effectively.
Looking ahead, Sir Keir has a busy schedule of engagements, including a summit of “progressive” politicians in Montreal, Canada. He is also expected to be hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and is eyeing a meeting with US President Joe Biden in the White House. Sir Keir admires Biden’s economic policies and green subsidy push.
Labour’s plan to combat people smuggling demonstrates their commitment to national security and protecting the British people. By deepening intelligence ties with Europe, strengthening powers to restrict the movement of offenders, stationing more British officers in Europe, and negotiating an EU-wide returns agreement, Labour aims to dismantle criminal smuggling networks and secure British borders.
The upcoming general election will test whether voters trust Labour to deliver on these promises and effectively address the escalating issue of people-smuggling.