Starmer’s Plan for EU Collaboration on Migrants
Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, has unveiled his plan for closer collaboration with the European Union (EU) on migrants. He argues that this approach would effectively combat “vile” people-smuggling gangs, in contrast to what he criticizes as Tory “gimmicks” on the issue.
Focus on Law Enforcement Measures
During a visit to The Hague, Sir Keir emphasized that his proposal is not about reversing Brexit but rather about enhancing law enforcement measures. He stated that any agreement with the EU to redistribute asylum claimants would be secondary to efforts to combat criminal organizations involved in human smuggling.
Restoring Intelligence Sharing
Brexit had halted British membership in Europol and Eurojust, the EU’s criminal justice agency. Sir Keir’s plan includes the restoration of real-time intelligence sharing with the EU. He also aims to deploy more UK police officers to Europe and treat people-smugglers as if they were “terrorists.”
Treating Smugglers as Terrorists
Sir Keir highlighted the success of counter-terrorism operations and suggested that people-smugglers should be treated with similar seriousness. He wants to categorize the trade of smuggling individuals in the same category as terrorism to address it effectively.
Preventing Crossings in the First Place
The Labour Party’s strategy aims to prevent migrants from attempting dangerous crossings in the first place. Sir Keir stressed the importance of stopping the trade and reducing the need for returns agreements.
Alternative to Government’s Plan
Labour intends to scrap the government’s plan to send asylum claimants to Rwanda and redirect the funds to the National Crime Agency for pursuing gang leaders involved in smuggling. This leaves open the possibility of participating in the EU’s contentious scheme to distribute claimants among EU member states.
Government’s Response and Concerns
Cabinet minister Steve Barclay acknowledged that a returns agreement could serve as a deterrent. However, he expressed concerns that such an agreement would mean relinquishing control over immigration policy to the EU. He also raised the issue of the UK’s potential obligation to take a high number of migrants under a quota deal, based on the EU’s burden-sharing scheme.
While the provisional total of Channel crossings for the year is lower than the previous year at this time, there has been an increase in crossings in September. This surge has prompted political discussions and proposals for addressing the issue of irregular migration.
Conservative sources argued that, based on the EU’s scheme for sharing the burden of migrants among member states, the UK would have been obligated to take a substantial number of migrants. They cited the potential requirement to accept 120,000 migrants out of the one million irregular migrants who arrived in the EU last year.
The number of migrants crossing the Channel has been a pressing issue, with an increase in crossings compared to the previous year. The situation remains a topic of concern and debate in the UK’s political landscape.