Unearthed, Starmer’s rant at ‘racist border laws’
SIR Keir Starmer came under fire over immigration yesterday after it emerged he had claimed all border controls have a ‘ racist undercurrent’.
During angry clashes in the Commons, Rishi Sunak seized on a newly unearthed article in which the Labour leader said the debate about immigration was ‘a question of racism’.
The PM said Sir Keir had been ‘on the wrong side of this issue his entire career’, adding: ‘ he described all immigration law as “racist”, he said it was a mistake to control immigration and he has never, ever voted for tougher asylum laws.
‘It is clear that while he is in hock to the open border activists, we are on the side of the British people.’
Labour last night confirmed Sir Keir will order his MPs to vote against the Illegal Migration Bill, which will ban people from claiming asylum if they enter the UK illegally. Sir Keir said he was opposed to the plans on practical grounds, arguing they would not work.
But Tory sources highlighted a 1988 article in the magazine Socialist Lawyer in which Sir Keir, then a young human rights lawyer, suggested that a ‘racist undercurrent... permeates all immigration law, whether implemented by the Tories or Labour. It’s not a question of numbers, it’s a question of racism.’
Labour declined to comment on the article last night.
The PM’s new plan to ‘ stop the boats’ dominated exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Sir Keir claimed it would drive a ‘ coach and horses’ through anti- slavery laws and was the fifth in a series of failed attempts to tackle illegal immigration.
The PM replied that there is a ‘global migration problem’, before setting out his proposals and claiming that Sir Keir’s policy was ‘open door immigration and unlimited asylum’.
The Labour leader provoked Tory laughter when he suggested the Government would ‘steal our plans’ if it was serious about tackling the problem.
But the PM hit back: ‘We have a clear plan to stop people coming here in the first place.
‘Labour MPs have absolutely no plan on this issue because they simply do not want to tackle the problem. We introduced tougher sentences for people smugglers – they opposed it. We signed a deal with Rwanda – they opposed it. We are deporting foreign offenders as we speak – they oppose it.’
MPs are expected to vote on the Illegal Immigration Bill next week, with Ministers acknowledging it is pushing at the boundaries of international law.
home Secretary Suella Braverman has warned there is a greater than 50 per cent chance that the legislation will fall foul of the european Convention on human Rights. But Downing Street said the PM was ‘confident’ the plan was lawful.
No10 also rejected criticism from the UN refugee agency
‘He’s on the wrong side of the issue’
UNhCR, which said the plans were a ‘clear breach’ of international law which would ‘undermine a longstanding, humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud’.
The new law will bar migrants from claiming asylum if they arrive in the UK illegally. Ministers say they will be detained and ‘swiftly’ deported instead.
Critics have questioned whether the government has the capacity to detain and remove the numbers crossing, which Mrs Braverman said could hit 80,000 this year. But she said voters would be able to judge for themselves, adding: ‘It will be very clear by the time of the next election whether we have succeeded or not.’