Starmer vows to restore ‘integrity’ to asylum system with new Border Security Command

Keir Starmer will launch the Labour Party’s plans to tackle illegal migration on Friday, including a commitment to create a new Border Security Command.

In a major speech on the Kent cost, Starmer will vow to move on from the government’s “talk tough, do nothing culture” with the new body — led by a Border Security Commander — tasked with overseeing new specialist investigators, officers and prosecutors. 

Announcing his new plans, Starmer is expected to accuse the government of showing “rank incompetence” in its bid to stop the small boats

The Labour leader will say: “Rebuilding our asylum system has become a test of political strength, a trial of leadership to resist the voices who fundamentally do not want to rebuild a functioning asylum system.

“It’s become a question of whether you can prioritise, at all times, the politics of practical solutions, and reject the politics of performative symbols — the gimmicks and gestures. This is the story of what has happened to the government, that finds itself with a record of failure as total and stark as this.”

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The speech comes after Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover, crossed the floor of the House of Commons to join the Labour Party on Wednesday. 

Elphicke, having previously criticised Labour’s plan to tackle illegal migration, cited the government’s “failure” to keep the UK’s borders secure in her defection statement. 

She accused the government of “failing to keep our borders safe and secure”, adding: “Lives are being lost in the English Channel while small boat arrivals are once again at record levels. 

“It’s clear they have failed to keep our borders secure and cannot be trusted”.

‘Rishi Sunak’s government is failing’ — Natalie Elphicke joins the Labour Party


Speaking from the constituency of his newest MP on Friday, Starmer will repeat his party’s commitment to scrapping the government’s flagship Rwanda deportation scheme. The new Border Security Command, Starmer will say, would be funded by diverting a portion (£75 million allocated for year 1) of the money being spent on the plan.

The body, which aims to bring together the resources of the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement, the Crown Prosecution Service and MI5, is set to be modelled on the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, founded by the last Labour government. 

It would be led by a new Border Security Commander, reporting directly to the home secretary.

Starmer will say on Friday: “It’s not hard to see why the prime minister might want a path to deterrence without the hard graft, the boring graft maybe, of fixing the wider system. But I’m afraid, like so much of what he says these days, it’s sticking plasters. Gimmicks not serious government.

“Let me spell it out again. A scheme that will only remove 1 per cent of small boat crossings a year can not, and never will be, an effective deterrent. It’s an insult to anyone’s intelligence, and the gangs that run this sick trade are not easily fooled”.

“In fact – by allowing vast numbers of people into the country via this route, running up a perma-backlog of nearly 100,000 people, refusing to process the claims – so that even if they have absolutely no right to be here they cannot be removed, billing the taxpayer for expensive hotel accommodation… the government has achieved the complete opposite of what they claim.”

The Labour leader will add: “We have to restore integrity and rules to our asylum system. We have to clear the backlog. That is the path — the only path — to real deterrence.

“So we will hire hundreds of new caseworkers for the Home Office — and we’ll do it immediately — we will create a new fast-track Returns and Enforcement Unit. We will ensure our courts can process claims quickly, and we will save the taxpayer billions”.

Looking ahead to Starmer’s speech, home secretary James Cleverly said: “Rather than starting the flights and stopping the boats, Sir Keir Starmer‘s big new idea is an amnesty for all illegal immigrants, scrapping our Rwanda plan even if it’s working. 

“Nobody believes Keir Starmer wants to control our borders when he previously said immigration controls are ‘racist’ and blocked the deportation of violent sexual offenders. Actions speak louder than words, Keir Starmer will never be on the side of the British people”. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our free daily newsletter here.