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Labour will open door to 100,000 more migrants, James Cleverly claims, as Yvette Cooper accuses him of lying

25 June 2024, 09:57 | Updated: 25 June 2024, 10:29

James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper clashed on immigration
James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper clashed on immigration. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

James Cleverly has been accused of lying after warning that Labour's immigration policy would open the door to 100,000 migrants from Europe

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Speaking in an immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Home Secretary Mr Cleverly said that under Labour the UK would "inevitably mean that the UK becomes a net recipient of illegal migrants".

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper accused him of "fantasy" and talking "total garbage", adding that "he shouldn’t be allowed to just make stuff up or tell lies".

The debate centred on Mr Cleverly's claim that Labour would join a migrant quota scheme with the EU, which Ms Cooper denied. Asked by Nick how Labour would deal with illegal migrants if it scrapped the Rwanda scheme, Ms Cooper said: "We used to have the Dublin agreement, which did have some returns to Europe."

She was interrupted by Mr Cleverly, who said: "And we were a net recipient because the challenge in Europe, as I’ve said, is more stark than the challenge in the UK. It’s difficult for all of us but in continental Europe they have a larger problem."

Read more: UK would be ‘illegal migration capital of world’ under Labour, Sunak says as he sets out plans to ‘stop the boats’

Read more: General Election LIVE: Cleverly and Cooper face off on immigration in LBC exclusive debate

Nick Ferrari challenges Yvette Cooper on whether border security proposals are 'just another squad'

He added: "So the arrangement that you’re talking about will inevitably mean that the UK becomes a net recipient of illegal migrants. We estimate about 100,000 additional people."

But Ms Cooper hit back, saying: "This is just invented, this is just fantasy, this is just total garbage.

"Seriously, he shouldn’t be allowed to just make stuff up or tell lies. I mean that is just not on.

Where is this 100,000, what is this? This is just garbage. It’s invented, isn’t it James?"

Mr Cleverly replied that "the simple fact of the matter is that the numbers in Europe are significantly higher in Europe and in the UK, because if we do some kind of sharing arrangement like the Dublin agreement, we will inevitably- inevitably - become a net recipient."

Home Secretary James Cleverly (left) and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast at Global Studios in Leicester Square, London. Picture date: Tuesday June 25, 2024.
Home Secretary James Cleverly (left) and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast at Global Studios in Leicester Square, London. Picture date: Tuesday June 25, 2024. Picture: Alamy

"And when Yvette says we’re going to do greater cooperation, she needs to explain why would countries who have a larger problem than us be willing to receive migrants from us."

Ms Cooper said that Labour would not join the EU quota scheme, as "that wouldn’t be right for the UK", to which Mr Cleverly shot back: "Then you won’t get a deal."

The Shadow Home Secretary continued: "What we should be doing is sharing intelligence on things like who has already claimed asylum and been turned down in other countries.

"At the moment we don’t know that so we can’t even swiftly return them.

(left to right) Nick Ferrari, Home Secretary James Cleverly and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate
(left to right) Nick Ferrari, Home Secretary James Cleverly and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate. Picture: Alamy

"What we should also be doing is having a new returns and enforcement unit, that’s what Labour would set up, in the UK as well, to increase returns, because they have dropped by about 40% under the Conservatives."

To end this mad system where people arrive and then jsyt stay indefinitely under the current system.

It comes after Rishi Sunak claimed that Labour would make the UK the "soft-touch illegal migration capital of the world".

He criticised Sir Keir’s migration proposals in what he described as an "illegal migration amnesty and sweetheart deal with the EU”.

The Labour party hit back at Mr Sunak's comments, as it accused the Tories of “desperately inventing lies” about their policies, adding that "instead of the gimmicks, Labour will get a grip" on the issue.

Labour want to 'significantly' reduce immigration but won't set a target

Labour has pledged in their manifesto to scrap the government’s flagship plan to relocate migrants to Rwanda if elected and use the money to pay for a new security border command.

If elected, Labour would launch the unit with "hundreds of new specialist investigators", vowing to "use counter-terror powers to smash criminal boat gangs" in a bid to curb Channel crossings.

The party would also seek a "new security agreement with the EU to ensure access to real-time intelligence" so police can work with European counterparts.

Ms Cooper said: "The Tories' so-called plan is more of the same chaotic failures and desperate lies - they are trying to take the country for fools.

"Small boat crossings have hit 50,000 on Rishi Sunak's watch and net migration has trebled since the last election.

"The extortionate Rwanda scheme has been running two years and just two volunteers have been sent. Rishi Sunak's promises and policies are all just a total con. All they are offering is more of the same failed approach while desperately inventing lies about Labour.

"Labour will set up a new Border Security Command with new counter terror powers and hundreds of additional cross-border police and investigators to smash criminal smuggler gangs.

"We will put a stop to the Tories asylum hotel amnesty by clearing the backlog with a new Returns and Enforcement Unit to return those with no right to be here.

"Labour will link visa controls to new workforce plans and training requirements to tackle skills shortages and bring net migration down."

LBC's immigration debate in full | James Cleverly vs Yvette Cooper

If re-elected, the Conservative party said under the plans that it would commission the independent Migration Advisory Committee to recommend an annual level for migration, and automatically hike the salary threshold for skilled workers and the family income requirement in line with inflation.

Plans will also include “running a regular rhythm of flights to Rwanda to provide an effective deterrent, starting in July, until the boats are stopped".

They also include introducing a cap on the number of work visas and allowing Parliament to vote on where the limit should be set.

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