Starmer launches bid to secure new migrant returns deal with EU under Labour

Sir Keir Starmer wants to forge closer relations with the EU to secure a migrant returns deal.

The Labour leader believes he can agree a new arrangement with the bloc, even though it could lead to the UK taking migrants from the continent. 

Sir Keir – who voted to remain in the EU – believes a new pact with Brussels on migrants could be part of a “greater security cooperation”.

Labour will scrap the Rwanda deportation deal and funnel around £160m to the National Crime Agency. 

Sir Keir and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper arrived in Brussels tonight for talks with Europol.

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But aides refused to discuss what the opposition leader is hoping to achieve during the meeting.

Sir Keir’s official spokesman admitted the UK will have to consider taking migrants from the continent if they want to secure a deal with the EU.

He said: “If you want to have a conversation about returns agreements, then that will need to be a conversation that happens.

“The details of those conversations will follow. But it is clear that having returns agreements is an essential part of being able to deal with the backlog and end the use of hotels.

“The exact way it would operate would have to be for negotiation.”

He admitted Labour is confident it can secure a deal and admitted it could be part of a wider plan to forge closer ties with Brussels.

The opposition leader’s spokesman added: “There is a very specific thing around security cooperation, where clearly, we want to have greater security cooperation.

“We believe that there is more work that can be done to tackle the criminal gangs and deal with that part of the dangerous crossings.

“Do we think there should be more removals? Yes. We’ve said we need to see more agreements in place so that we can make that happen. 

Labour wants the NCA to send more officers to smuggling hotspots around the World to dismantle the brutal criminal networks risking tens of thousands of lives every year. 

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It will establish a new cross-border cell within the NCA to go after the smuggling gangs.

And it will pay for more asylum caseworkers to reduce the backlog.

Addressing critics who warn Labour will just wave through more asylum applications, Sir Keir’s spokesman said: “If you are in a situation where you are processing claims quicker, it actually makes returning people easier because you are in a position where you have decisions in a timeframe that makes returns more able to happen.”

But Sir Keir Starmer is also set to meet French President Emmanuel Macron next week – prompting fury from Tory MPs.

One Conservative politician told the Express that Macron is a “massive Europhile and he recognises a kindred spirit” in Sir Keir Starmer.

“He clearly expects Starmer to cosy up to the EU if Labour win the next General Election.”

Another said the fact the meeting is happening is “very off” on France’s part, “especially as Rishi is meant to be a mate”.

A third reacted to the news with an expletive, demanding to know what both parties are playing at and adding: “Starmer should know better”.

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