UK Labour vows new powers to counter migrant smuggling gangs

UK Labour vows new powers to counter migrant smuggling gangs
UK Labour vows new powers to counter migrant smuggling gangs

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (centre) will set out his plans to tackle the crisis during a speech on the Kent coastline, southern England, where most of the boats arrive, his office said. — AFP pic

LONDON, May 10 — The British Labour party, widely expected to take power this year, will attempt to crack down on people-smuggling gangs bringing migrants across the Channel with new counter-terrorism powers, party leader Keir Starmer said today.

The crossings from northern Europe in small boats will be a key issue during a general election likely this year, with the polls pointing towards Starmer becoming prime minister.

Starmer will set out his plans to tackle the crisis during a speech on the Kent coastline, southern England, where most of the boats arrive, his office said.

The Labour leader will vow to scrap a government scheme to undocumented asylum seekers to Rwanda and will “replace gimmicks with graft”, according to extracts of his speech released late yesterday.

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Some of the money saved from the Rwanda scheme will fund an “elite Border Security Command” led by a former police, military or intelligence chief, he said in the extracts.

The new government would hire hundreds of investigators, intelligence agents and cross-border police. It would introduce new border control searches, adding to powers created by the 2000 Terrorism Act, in order to break the smuggling gangs.

“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,” the party leader was quoted as saying in his latest attack on government action.

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The announcement comes two days after Dover MP Natalie Elphicke defected to Labour from the ruling Conservatives, citing the government’s failure to stop the crossings.

More than 8,800 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year, up 32 per cent on the same period last year. — AFP

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