Keir Starmer accused of ‘short-term positioning’ and being weak on immigration in speech

Keir Starmer accused of ‘short-term positioning’ in major speech (Image: Getty)

The Labour leader said he would look at offshore processing, used by countries such as Australia, to tackle the migrant crisis.

But during a speech to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2019 election he insisted “straight deportation schemes” like Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda policy will not work.

Sir Keir said the Government’s plan to deport migrants to Africa is “built on sand”.

Asked whether he would ever consider sending asylum seekers abroad, the Labour leader said he was open to the idea of offshore processing.

“The Rwanda scheme…is a straight deportation scheme in relation to people who have already arrived”, he told reporters at Silverstone race track.

“Other countries around the world do have schemes where they divert people away for processing elsewhere. That’s a different kind of scheme and I’ll look at any scheme that might work.”

“I’m actually pretty clear in my own mind that unless – and until – we’re more serious about smashing the gangs, trying to deal at the other end of the problem, when people are already here, is looking at it through the wrong end of the telescope.”

“The Government has lost control of the numbers – thousands and thousands of people coming and they’re saying we might just very expensively send 100 people to Rwanda.”

Sir Keir said that Labour MPs would oppose the Rwanda legislation in last night’s Commons vote because it goes “against our values”.

He insisted that his plan to crack down on smuggling gangs and strike a returns agreement with the EU would deliver faster and cheaper results.

“We will oppose the scheme this evening for a number of reasons – it doesn’t work, it will cost a fortune… and it is against our values”, he said.

“That does not mean we don’t recognise the challenge that there is of crossing on small boats across the Channel. We have to stop that. But stopping that means not gimmicks, but rolling our sleeves up with a practical plan that will actually work.”

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But the Tories immediately hit back, accusing the Labour leader of being soft on illegal migration and warned 100,000 more migrants would come to the UK every year under a Starmer premiership.

Conservative Party Chair Richard Holden, said: “Once again Sir Keir Starmer showed he is only interested in short-term political positioning, not taking long-term decisions in the national interest.”

“Sir Keir confirmed he will block our plan to stop the boats, because he has never truly believed in being tough on illegal immigration and deterring people from making dangerous Channel crossings.”

READ MORE Starmer ‘has a plan’ but he never seems quite sure what it is – Chris Smithers

“Whilst Labour stick to their same old short-term approach of more migration, more borrowing and more taxes, we are taking the long-term decisions to secure Britain’s future.”

In what appeared to be a pre-election stump speech Sir Keir accused the Tories of falling far from Sir Winston Churchill’s politics and instead echoing those of Donald Trump.

He vowed Labour would focus on the “mundane stuff” of getting things done.

In a direct appeal to Conservative voters, he promised Labour would put economic stability, “secure” borders and better management of taxpayer money at the heart of its agenda.

The Labour leader, who has recently praised Margaret Thatcher, hit out at so-called “culture war” politics, saying: “These aren’t Churchill’s Tories anymore.

“If anything, they behave more and more like Donald Trump. They look at the politics of America and they want to bring that here.”

“It’s all ‘woke, woke, woke. Wedge, wedge, wedge. Divide, divide, divide’.”

Sir Keir also attempted to further distance himself from the left-leaning politics of Jeremy Corbyn, in whose shadow cabinet he previously served.

“Working people up and down our country looked at my party, looked at how we’d lost our way, not just under Jeremy Corbyn, but for a while, and they said: ‘No, not this time. You don’t listen to us anymore. You’re not in our corner”, Sir Keir added.

He said the changes he has made as Labour leader have aimed to reverse the damage done by “reneging on” the party’s promise to serve working people.

“Not just a paint job, a total overhaul, a different Labour Party, driven by your values, relentless in earning your vote.”

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