Keir Starmer has vowed to axe the government’s Rwanda policy even if it is ruled legal and shown to be working.
The Labour leader said he would introduce a “pragmatic plan” to deal with the problem of small boats carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel if he becomes prime minister.
The Supreme Court will this week beginning hearing the government’s case as to why their plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda does not breach international law.
But appearing on the BBC this morning, Starmer said the scheme would be axed if Labour wins the next election.
Asked by presenter Victoria Derbyshire if he would scrap it even if the Supreme Court rules it is legal and it reduces the number of small boat crossings, Starmer said: “Yes. I believe it’s the wrong policy, it’s hugely expensive, it’s a tiny number of individuals who would go to Rwanda.”
Derbyshire replied: “Even if everybody can see that it’s working, the criminal gangs are declining, fewer people are getting in those boats, fewer people are drowning, you would still reverse it?”
Starmer said: “We’ve been told time and again by the government, even saying that they’ve got a Rwanda scheme would reduce the numbers - that hasn’t happened.”
The Labour leader said the small boat crossing would only stop once the criminal gangs organising the journeys are “smashed”.
He added: “As a pragmatist, I want a pragmatic plan that is actually going to fix this problem, not rhetoric which has got this government absolutely nowhere.”