Rishi Sunak skewers Keir Starmer over branding laws 'racist' and being on 'wrong side of immigration his whole career'

Rishi Sunak skewers Keir Starmer over branding laws 'racist' and being on 'wrong side of immigration his whole career'

GB News

Rishi Sunak defended his Illegal Immigration bill during PMQs
Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler

Published: 08/03/2023

- 12:30

Updated: 09/03/2023

- 10:28

Rishi Sunak claims he is 'getting a grip' on illegal migration with the Government's new bill

Rishi Sunak blasted the leader of the Labour party as he claimed that Keir Starmer has always been on the "wrong side of immigration" in a clash during Prime Minister's Questions.

The Prime Minister told the Commons that Starmer previously described all immigration law as "racist" as he defended his new Illegal Migration Bill.

The Government is expected to set out plans today which would mean anyone arriving in Britain by crossing the Channel in a small boat – or any other unauthorised means – would no longer be able to claim asylum in the UK.

The legislation has faced criticism from campaigners who said the proposed policy would be unworkable.

Rishi Sunak speaking in the House of Commons

Rishi Sunak blasted Keir Starmer over immigration during PMQs

GB News

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Starmer said: “If he was serious about stopping the boats, he’d actually steal our plan on stopping the boats, smash the gangs, sort out the returns and clean up the utter mess.”

He added: “Nobody on this side of the House wants open borders. On that side they’ve lost control of the border. He’s promised the country that this Bill will stop all small boat crossings, no ifs, no buts. Sounds like more talk – so, in the interest of adequate action, when will he achieve that?”

Sunak replied: “We will be implementing this plan as soon as we can pass it through Parliament. So, I look forward to the honourable gentleman’s support. The reality is on this issue, (Starmer) has been on the wrong side … of this issue his entire career.

“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 while he is hock to the open border activists, we’re on the side of the British people.”

Under the new legislation anyone who illegally enters the UK would only be eligible for asylum in a “safe” third country, such as Rwanda.

They would also receive a lifetime ban on citizenship or re-entry to the UK.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has praised the bill which she says will cause small boat crossings to “fall dramatically” as she insisted they are legal.

The backlash over plans to prevent anyone who arrives in the UK by unauthorised means from returning has been sharp, with the UN’s refugee agency calling it effectively an “asylum ban”.

Keir Starmer talking in the House of Commons

Rishi Sunak has claimed Sir Keir Starmer is “another leftie lawyer” seeking to disrupt the Government’s immigration plans

Parliament TV

Starmer challenged the Prime Minister on the bill but was on the receiving end of a jibe after he accused the Government of delivering “utter failure” and warning the “problem just gets worse with every new gimmick”.

The Labour leader also criticised the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which paved the way for the Government to try and send migrants to Rwanda – although this policy has stalled – and the latest legislation aimed at curbing Channel crossings.

Sunak responded saying: “Precisely because of the law that the Conservative Government passed last year they have now been able to arrest more than double the number of people they did before – 397 in the last six months.

“But stopping the boats is not just my priority, it is the people’s priority.

“But his (Starmer) position on this is clear: he wanted to, in his words, scrap the Rwanda deal; he voted against measures to deport foreign criminals; and he even argued against deportation flights.

“We know why – on this matter he talks about his legal background, he’s just another leftie lawyer standing in our way.”

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