The Conservatives have lost control of our immigration system.
It is because of the chaos they’ve created that we have the Stradey Park Hotel situation – a Tory Government decision that I have opposed from the start.
Rishi Sunak’s divisive and unworkable gimmicks have failed. We need a comprehensive, realistic plan to tackle the problem at source. One that ensures we help those genuinely fleeing war and persecution but that also takes strong, co-ordinated action to crack down on immoral people smuggling gangs.
That is why I support the announcement made a few days ago by Keir Starmer that would commit serious energy and resources to do exactly that.
Under the Conservatives, convictions for people smuggling have plummeted by 36% since 2010. Just 253 people were convicted of people smuggling last year. At the same time, almost 46,000 people crossed the Channel.
Labour has now committed to creating a new cross-border police unit funded by the millions of pounds being wasted by the Government on the unworkable Rwanda scheme.
We would seek a new Security Agreement with Europe to bring gang-leaders to justice, including real-time data and intelligence-sharing on suspects and a new partnership with Europol that enables the UK to play a leading role in partnerships to combat migrant smuggling across Europe.
There is also a plan to draw up a new Serious and Organised Crime Strategy which would include strengthening civil orders, such as existing Serious Crime Prevention Orders, to ensure they can be properly used against smuggling and trafficking
This Tory Government’s failure to tackle the smuggling gangs organising boat crossings is now so profound it needs to be considered on a par with the other three big security threats we face: climate change, hostile foreign powers, and terrorism.
Each should be tackled with the seriousness they deserve.