Keir Starmer says no Rwanda flight will take off during Labour government

Labour would scrap Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda scheme and use the money to set up an “elite” Border Security Command task force charged with preventing small boat crossing, it was announced on Friday.

In a speech in Kent, Sir Keir Starmer branded the Prime Minister’s plan to send failed asylum seekers to the African nation a “gimmick”.

Border Security Command would be an “elite force, not a Cinderella service”, he said.

It would “bring together hundreds of specialist investigators”, including from services such as the National Crime Agency, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, The Crown Prosecution Service, and MI5.

They would all be “working to a single mission, all freed from the cloying bureaucracy that so often prevents collaboration between different institutions”, Sir Keir added.

He later told Sky News: "There'll be no flights. I want to scrap the scheme so that means the flights won't be going.

"There will be no flights scheduled or taking off after the general election if Labour wins that general election.”

New powers, based on counter-terrorism methods and with High Court approval, would give authorities permission to shut off internet access, close bank accounts and trace the movements of suspected people traffickers before they are arrested.

A security pact would also be signed with European partners to help “smash” criminal gangs, which charge ten-of-thousands-of-pound to traffic people into Britain.

Sir Keir said: “A scheme that will remove less than 1 per cent of arrivals from small boat crossings a year can not and never will be an effective deterrent. It’s an insult to anyone’s intelligence and the gangs that run this sick trade are not easily fooled.”

He added: “Today we launch our plan... A new approach to small boat crossings that will secure Britain’s borders, prevent the exploitation by tackling it upstream and smash the criminal smuggling gangs.”

Sir Keir was joined by Dover MP Natalie Elphicke who controversially defected to Labour from the Tories on Wednesday.

Ms Elphicke, who will not be standing at the next election, said she did not believe Prime Minister could be trusted to deal with the migrant crisis as she crossed the floor to join Labour.

More than 8,000 people have made the perilous journey across the Channel this year.

The government hopes the Rwanda scheme, which cleared the Commons last month, will deter migrants from making the crossing

It is expected to cost at least £370m over five years, according to the National Audit Office.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said Labour’s plan was an “amnesty for all illegal immigrants”.

“Nobody believes Keir Starmer wants to control our borders,” he said.