Labour vows to ‘take back control of our borders’ as Keir Starmer launches security plan

Keir Starmer is today unveiling Labour’s security plans, promising to treat criminal gangs who smuggle people in small boats “on a par” with terrorists.

The plan has been sold by Labour as “taking back control of our borders”.

The Labour leader will be visiting The Hague with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, where the pair will meet Europol — the Europe-wide law enforcement agency — officials and hold conversations about the party’s plans to tackle illegal migration.

It comes after Starmer told The Times he would treat people smugglers like terrorists by freezing their assets and restricting their movements.

The Labour leader has also announced that he would seek an EU-wide returns agreement for asylum seekers who come to Britain.

It would likely mean accepting a quota of migrants from the EU in return, although Labour figures insist this is up for negotiation.

The reaction to this proposal has been one of outrage from the Conservatives, with party chairman Greg Hands saying this morning that it is a “shocking open-door policy”.

He wrote on Twitter: “Labour won’t take the long term decisions to stop the boats and tackle illegal immigration.

“Instead deciding to open the doors to 100,000 extra illegal migrants, second-hand from the EU, every year.”

Meanwhile, health secretary Steve Barclay this morning accused Sir Keir of wanting to “give control of our immigration policy back to the EU”.

Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds has said that particular attack line is “absolute nonsense”.

“[That’s] pretty desperate stuff really from a government that is presiding over a system where we’ve had around 45,000 people crossing the Channel already this year”, he said. 

He added that Labour’s plan is to “take back control of our borders”.

Starmer has also announced that Labour would have more UK police officers posted with the organisation for joint investigations, aiming to disrupt the gangs before they reach the coast.

Elsewhere, Labour wants to work with EU partners on intelligence sharing by replacing the access the UK lost to certain programmes following Brexit.

Sir Keir has said UK borders and the immigration system were “being run by a hostile and growing foreign power — criminal smuggling gangs on the continent”.

“These criminal smuggling gangs are growing fat on the government’s failures, while the Tories ramp up empty rhetoric around illegal immigration for cheap headlines”

“The prime minister and home secretary swing wildly from gimmick to gimmick, each one designed to grab headlines rather than sort the problem.

“My Labour government will roll up our sleeves and go after these criminals, with a proper plan for a new security agreement with Europe to support better cross-border police operations and stronger powers for our enforcement agencies in the UK.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.