Yvette Cooper announces Labour's toughened stance on UK border control

The party would seek to boost the number of border and immigration staff in Britain to around 8,000

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Indy Politics

A Labour government would recruit an extra 1,000 border staff by imposing a visa charge on millions of tourists visiting Britain, the Shadow Home Secretary will announce today.

Yvette Cooper will argue in a speech that tougher checks at ports and airports are essential to rebuild faith in the immigration system.

In a toughening of Labour’s message on immigration, she will argue that a "progressive approach" is vital to reassure the public that fair rules are enforced on new arrivals.

The party would seek to boost the number of border and immigration staff in Britain to around 8,000, Ms Cooper will say.

The £45 million recruitment bill would be met by charging around £10 for travellers from countries with which the UK has an electronic visa-waiver agreement.

Travellers from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Gulf states currently do not pay for their travel documents to be processed.

Labour’s system would mirror the visa-waiver programme in the US, in which British visitors are charged $14 (£8.90).

Labour said the move would ensure shorter queues at passport control and improve the quality of border checks.

Ms Cooper will accuse the Conservatives and Ukip of stooping to an "arms race of rhetoric" on immigration, which exploits fears and fosters conflict in communities.

But she will take aim at liberal commentators and business leaders who dismiss public concern as irrational.

Ms Cooper will attack the Liberal Democrats for ignoring immigration problems and say that her party needs to talk more about border control.

Ms Cooper will accuse Home Secretary Theresa May of presiding over a decline in quality of border controls.

"Basic checks are just not being done and that is undermining confidence in the whole system. The number of people stopped and turned away at the border has halved."