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UK politics: Starmer unveils small boats plan as Sunak’s first Rwanda flights could take off in June

Shadow health secretary claims more Tories could follow Elphicke’s path in joining the Labour Party but Sir Keir Starmer denies Nigel Farage is joining

Salma Ouaguira,Jane Dalton,Andy Gregory
Friday 10 May 2024 18:23 BST
'Failed' asylum system offers 'false hope' to migrants, Starmer says

Keir Starmer has unveiled a counter-terror style small boats plan that will “replace gimmicks with graft” by scrapping the Rwanda scheme.

He has vowed to partly fund a new “elite” border unit as he set out his plans to stop small boats crossing the Channel.

In a speech at Dover, the Labour leader accused the Conservatives of operating a “Travelodge amnesty” by housing asylum-seekers in hotels rather than processing their claims.

He was accompanied by new Labour MP Natalie Elphicke, who has slammed the Tories approach on boats just days after defecting from the party.

Speaking about her admission, he said the move represents the “mood of the country” as Rishi Sunak is “clinging on by his fingernails” to power.

During the press conference, the opposition leader hasn’t ruled out letting Nigel Farage join the Labour Party.

It comes after as government lawyers have confirmed the first deportation flights as part of the Rwanda scheme could take off in June.


First UK deportation flight ‘to take off in June'

Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda scheme is set to fully materialise in a matter of weeks.

The first asylum seekers were originally set to be flown out of the ground in July.

But court documents have now revealed that flights could take off in June.

Government lawyers said: “In the prime minister’s press conference on 22 April he said the first flight would leave in 10 to 12 weeks. The 10th week after 22 April starts with the week commencing 24 June.

“We are instructed that this is the earliest possible date for the first removals and that the decision on the precise date will be based on operational considerations and progress over the coming weeks.”

Salma Ouaguira10 May 2024 15:54

We are now putting our coverage of UK politics on hold for the night, resuming soon.

Jane Dalton10 May 2024 18:23

Comment: The economy climbs out of recession – but, hold on, there may be a catch…

The strength of the UK’s emergence from recession came as a surprise even to the City – but, says James Moore, finally turning the corner makes a cut in interest rates less likely.

Salma Ouaguira10 May 2024 18:00

In full: Jeremy Hunt admits Conservative MPs ‘losing their nerve’ after Ephicke defection

Westminster was stunned this week with the shock defection of Tory MP Natalie Elphicke to Labour.

The move added to Rishi Sunak’s woes just days after he appeared to see off Tory rebels keen to oust him, after bruising devastating local election results.

Ben Houchen, the Tory Mayor of the Tees Valley, has also urged Mr Sunak to get a grip of his party as he warned the “public do not vote for parties who are not united”.

Asked about both Lord Houchen’s comments and Ms Elphicke’s defection said: “What he (Houchen) said was divided parties don’t win elections and we need to pull together as a Conservative Party.

“I think that when you see we are behind in the polls, unfortunately some colleagues do lose their nerve.” 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he expects significant losses for the Tories in the local elections (PA)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he expects significant losses for the Tories in the local elections (PA) (PA Wire)
Salma Ouaguira10 May 2024 16:34

Labour’s small boats plans ‘welcome’ but ‘more of the same’, says ex-chief inspector of borders

Labour’s proposals to stem small boats crossing the Channel are “welcome” but to some degree are “more of the same”, the former chief inspector of borders John Vine has said.

“It’s a welcome proposal but to some degree it’s more of the same,” he told LBC, adding: “There’s no magic bullet, I’m afraid.

“It’s a combination of tough enforcement, which is what Labour’s proposing. We need to have a really, really intense combined effort on both sides of the Channel ... and it won’t be just tackled by reorganising the way we operate in the Home Office.”

Andy Gregory10 May 2024 08:17

Interest rate cut would be ‘massive relief’ for mortgage-holders, says Hunt

Jeremy Hunt has said an interest rate cut this year would be “a massive relief” for mortgage-holders.

“I wouldn’t like to predict an exact time but the Bank of England governor says he is optimistic that we are on the right track and it would be a massive relief for families with mortgages if we can bring them down. So I hope that turns out to be the case,” the chancellor told LBC.

Andy Gregory10 May 2024 08:13

Natalie Elphicke defection 'like being punched in the gut', says Jess Philips

Jess Phillips has said that seeing Natalie Elphicke cross the parliamentary chamber to join the Labour Party felt “like being punched in the gut”.

The former shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding told Sky News’s Electoral Dysfunction podcast that the Labour leadership should have handled the defection of Ms Elphickle “in a way that was slightly more sensitive to those of us who speak up on these particular issues”.

Andy Gregory10 May 2024 07:40

Starmer faces demands to reinstate Diane Abbott

Keir Starmer is facing calls to let Diane Abbott, who was suspended for allegedly anti-Jewish remarks, back into Labour as anger mounts over the shock defection of Natalie Elphicke:

Starmer faces demands to reinstate Abbott after welcoming ‘rightwing MP’ into Labour

Diane Abbott’s continued suspension from Labour is being challenged after Natalie Elphicke was welcomed in

Jane Dalton9 May 2024 18:55

Rishi Sunak must allow visit from UN food inspector due to increasing levels of UK poverty, 85 charities write

More than 80 charities and civil society bodies have called on Rishi Sunak to reverse a decision to block a UK visit by the UN inspector on food poverty until after the election. 

Mr Sunak’s government has told the UN special rapporteur on the right to food that he cannot visit the UK until next year. Professor Michael Fakhri, who uses his role to study hunger and food insecurity in countries around the world, asked to make a formal visit to the UK more than 20 months ago.

Salma Ouaguira9 May 2024 17:45

‘Shame on you Rishi Sunak,’ says prominent pro-Palestinian activist

American activist Cornel West, who is at the centre of US campus protests, has hit out at the Prime Minister for ‘funding Israel’.

The independent candidate for US president has recently led students at the Columbia University protest that sparked multiple arrests.

He told LBC : “I think the UK Government and the American Government have a morally bankrupt policy. They’re in denial about genocide.

“Genocide denying, to me, is morally bankrupt. And I don’t see how they could not call into question their funding. The military and financial support of this kind of genocide.

“I would say [to the Prime Minister] shame on you. I would say what kind of moral fibre do you actually have that you could continue to fund this kind of massacring and murdering of people?”

Harvard Professor Cornel West speaking at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, at the University of New Hampshire in 2020.
Harvard Professor Cornel West speaking at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, at the University of New Hampshire in 2020. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Salma Ouaguira9 May 2024 17:05

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