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Yvette Cooper says Labour will 'work with other countries' on migrant returns despite pledging to axe Rwanda scheme

25 June 2024, 10:45

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
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. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Yvette Cooper has suggested that Labour would work with third-party countries on migrant returns, despite a pledge to get rid of the Rwanda scheme.

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Speaking in an immigration debate with James Cleverly on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Ms Cooper said that the Rwanda scheme had been costly and ineffective.

Despite pledging to axe the Rwanda scheme, Labour have said that they would look at using third countries to send people to, usually en route to their final country of destination.

But Ms Cooper was unable to say what third country a failed asylum seeker from Syria would be sent to under a Labour government.

She told Nick: "Well, there are different arrangements that you can look at, and that's why we're not setting out a plan.

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"We're not setting out a mad plan like the government... we have got gimmicks at the moment, and they are failing."

Addressing the Rwanda plan, she said: "They've been running this scheme over two and a half years, and so far they've sent two volunteers and three Home Secretaries."

She also pointed out that the Rwanda partnership had cost £300 million.

Ms Cooper added: "So we should be working with other countries, we should be working in partnership. And we'll always look at anything that works.

"But what we won't do is send £300 million for two volunteers."

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

Ms Cooper and Mr Cleverly were clashing over their parties' respective plans on immigration.

Labour has said that it would fund a a new border security command, with "hundreds of new investigators, intelligence officers, and cross-border police officers" by dropping the Rwanda scheme.

Mr Cleverly said he was sceptical about what more Labour's plan would achieve than what the Conservatives had already done.

Ms Cooper also repeatedly refused to set a numerical target for reducing net migration during the debate.

Answering a question from a listener, who asked what the parties would do to bring down net migration, the Shadow Home Secretary accused the Conservatives of a "failure on the economy and migration", adding that the system "has to be controlled and managed".

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

She promised a "significant" reduction under Labour but repeatedly refused to put a numerical target when pressed, arguing that the party was not doing this because every time the Conservatives have done that they have "failed and discredited it".

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: "This is another example of what Labour are saying now in complete contradiction to what they were doing only very recently...

"They talk about wanting to bring this down. This is a road to Damascus-style conversion now that there's an election."

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