New UK PM Keir Starmer ‘not prepared’ to continue Rwanda migrant deportation plan

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Britain’s new Labour Prime Minister Keir Starmer on Saturday said he was “not prepared” to continue with the previous Conservative government’s flagship scheme to deport migrants to Rwanda.

“The Rwanda scheme was dead and buried before it started... I’m not prepared to continue with gimmicks that don’t act as a deterrent,” he told reporters at his first news conference.

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Ex-prime minister Rishi Sunak has staked his political reputation on his plan to “stop the boats,” pushing the controversial deportation plan despite opposition from rights groups and judicial rulings.

Labour, however, said it would jettison the scheme to remove people to Rwanda who crossed the English Channel by boat from northern France.

Immigration has become an increasingly central political issue since the United Kingdom left the European Union in 2020, largely on a promise to “take back control” of the country’s borders.

Starmer said previously that Sunak’s policy was neither a deterrent nor value for money.

He has pledged to tackle the issue “upstream” by smashing the people-smuggling gangs behind the crossings.

Central to the policy would be a new “elite” Border Security Command, comprising immigration and law enforcement specialists, as well as the domestic intelligence service MI5, he has said.

An estimated 12,313 people have made the crossing to Britain so far this year, an 18 percent increase from the same period last year, the UK Home Office said last month.

There were 29,437 arrivals across the whole of 2023, a drop of 36 percent on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

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