Government to divert tens of millions from Rwanda plan to new Border Security Command | Politics News

The government is to divert tens of millions of pounds from the Rwanda scheme to set up a new Border Security Command (BSC), as it announces its plans to tackle illegal migration.

Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has also announced an audit of the monies sent to Kigali as the Labour administration looks to find ways to save or recoup cash committed under the Conservatives.

Ms Cooper plans to raise the issue of illegal migration with her European colleagues at the European Political Community Summit on 18 July.

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Before the general election, Sir Keir Starmer said his party wanted to send around ยฃ75m a year to their new border scheme, from the scrapped Rwanda deportation programme.

The prime minister described the Conservative-era plans to send asylum seekers to Africa as “dead and buried” earlier this weekend.

However, it is understood Labour has not reached out to Kigali to discuss the way forward, as the previous UK government promised hundreds of millions of pounds for migrants to be sent to Rwanda.

One estimate placed the total cost of the Rwanda scheme to around half a billion pounds by April 2027.

The Labour government has also scrapped the Conservative’s “stop the boats” approach to tackling clandestine arrivals. Instead, they have pledged to “smash” the criminal gangs behind the crossings.

Speaking to broadcasters this afternoon, Ms Cooper refused multiple times to use the “stop the boats” phrase, or make a promise to do so.

Asked when the number of crossings will come down, the new home secretary said the government “want to make progress as rapidly as possible” – but have inherited a “problem” from the Tories as crossings rose in the first half of 2024.


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Labour inheriting ‘difficult legacy’

According to the government, the BSC will sit across the security services, the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force, to provide “strategic direction”.

When Labour announced these plans as the opposition, the then Conservative government said it was unclear how the BSC would differ from the current Channel threat commander.

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Ms Cooper said on Sunday: “The prime minister has obviously set out the position on the Rwanda scheme, where, as we know, the Conservatives ran this scheme for two and a half years and sent simply four volunteers, as well as hundreds of millions of pounds.

“I will be auditing all of the details around the money and the legislation and the processes, and I will set out more details to parliament.

“But the first step in our approach to all of these issues is to make sure we are putting the money instead into boosting our border security, and that is why we are today launching the Border Security Command process to make sure that we can get a new commander and a new cross border police in place, in order to strengthen border security.

“That is my key priority as incoming home secretary is to strengthen Britain’s border security, where I think we have been let down for too long.”

malek

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