Labour won't get rid of 'incredibly expensive' Bibby Stockholm on day one, says Yvette Cooper

25 June 2024, 09:49 | Updated: 25 June 2024, 09:53

James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.
James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast. Picture: LBC

By Emma Soteriou

Labour will not get rid of the Bibby Stockholm barge on day one, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said.

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Speaking during an immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Ms Cooper said Labour wants to stop using barges as they are "incredibly expensive" but it cannot be done immediately as "the system is broken".

But Home Secretary Jame Cleverly said using barges like the Bibby Stockholm had "allowed us to close asylum hotels and we have reduced the number we're using by well over 100".

Neither of them could say how many migrants were still living on the barge.

Ms Cooper said: "We want to get the Conservative’s backlog right down so that we don’t need to use any of the barges – they’re incredibly expensive – but you obviously can't do that on day one.

"We need to end these extortionate barges, bases and also hotels. We want to do that as fast as possible but the system is broken.

"We need to prevent boats arriving in the first place, and that means smashing the criminal gangs with a new border security command to go after the gangs, to work with Europol and to work with other police forces across Europe to do that."

Mr Cleverly hit back: “That’s what the National Crime Agency is already doing.”

“It’s much too small a scale, James," Ms Cooper said.

"Having talked to people in the NCA and in Europol, were talking about an additional 1,000 across border police and investigators."

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It comes after Rishi Sunak attacked Labour’s proposed plans to slash migration rates as he unveiled Conservative plans on Tuesday.

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

Tory plans will 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.

But Labour has accused the Tories of “desperately inventing lies” about their policies, adding that "instead of the gimmicks, Labour will get a grip" on the issue.

It comes as the number of migrants arriving in the UK after crossing the English Channel hit a new record for the first six months of a calendar year - at 12,901.

The tally of crossings since Mr Sunak, who promised to "stop the boats", became Prime Minister in October 2022 is fast approaching 50,000.

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