Starmer would let tens of thousands of illegal migrants into UK, says Cleverly

Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party would allow tens of thousands of “illegal migrants” to enter the UK should he be elected prime minister, James Cleverly has claimed. However, Stephen Kinnock, Labour’s shadow immigration minister, has dismissed his words as “made-up rubbish”, insisting his party had no such plans.

The Home Secretary took to X, formerly Twitter, after the EU unveiled plans for a radical overhaul of its asylum system. The new rules are aimed at sharing the cost of hosting migrants more evenly among member states. They would include building more detention centres and speedier deportations.

Mr Cleverly posted: “Sir Keir Starmer wants to join this. He would accept forced illegal migrant quotas from the EU. This would mean tens of thousands more illegal migrants coming to the UK. We cannot accept this.”

Mr Kinnock hit back, saying: “This is made-up rubbish, we’ve made it clear we won’t be joining any EU quota scheme.

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“The Tories are so keen to distract from their own disastrous failings on Rwanda, small boats and asylum that now they are just lying about Labour.

“The Tories have undermined our border security, broken our asylum system and bust the Home Office budget. The country cannot afford more of this Conservative chaos.

“Labour has a serious plan to smash the criminal gangs with a new cross-border police unit, recruit 1,000 new caseworkers to clear the backlog and end hotel use, and set up a new returns unit to ensure that those with no right to be here are swiftly returned.”

However, speaking to The Independent, French MEP Fabienne Keller said the UK would “probably” have to agree to take in a certain number of asylum seekers and contribute certain sums of money, “as it is the case for all the member states”.

European Union leaders yesterday hailed what they described as a major breakthrough on immigration – but critics fear the reforms will weaken the rights of asylum seekers and encourage more deals with countries that people leave to get to the continent.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said: “It’s truly a historic day. Let’s not underestimate the risk if we had not reached such a deal. This means, hopefully, that member states will feel less inclined to reintroduce internal borders because the influx is being managed.”

The pact is being touted as the answer to the EU’s migration woes when it was made public in September 2020. The bloc’s old rules collapsed in 2015 after more than one million people arrived in Europe without authorisation. Most were fleeing war in Syria or Iraq.

Also posting on X, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles slammed the new rules as “Byzantine in their complexity and Orban-esque in their cruelty” – a reference to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, who erected razor-wire fences to keep migrants out.

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