Labour’s plan for an alternative to the Rwanda migrant removal scheme will fail to deter small boat crossings, a Tory minister warned last night.
Sir Keir Starmer, who has said he will scrap the Government’s deal with Kigali if he becomes prime minister, is considering plans for ‘offshore processing’, under which asylum seekers would have their claims assessed overseas.
Those with genuine claims would be granted the right to come to the UK, while rejected claimants would be barred. Any deal would need to be cost-effective and avoid the legal difficulties engulfing Rishi Sunak‘s attempts to get his Rwanda scheme up and running.
But last night the Government argued that the proposals would fail to stop the boats. Immigration minister Michael Tomlinson said: ‘This Labour policy is not a deterrent to stop the boats, it just throws open the front door to Britain, increasing immigration.
‘The National Crime Agency says only a deterrent will stop the boats. Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan is a deterrent… but Labour have voted against it. While Labour want open borders, the Conservatives are taking the long-term decisions to bring illegal immigration down.’
Sir Keir has hinted he may be willing to back offshore asylum schemes that meet certain conditions, with similar plans currently being explored by Austria, Germany, Italy and Denmark.
The Labour leader said earlier this month he will ‘look at any scheme that might work’. But party officials stressed any proposals are in their early stages.
A source said there were ‘no discussions with specific countries at the minute’, adding: ‘We would look at anything credible that would work. Partly, this is about capacity, but it’s also about having return agreements. We used to return a lot more people. Everything has ground to a halt in the current system under this Government.’