A Labour shadow cabinet minister has refused to say whether Sir Keir Starmer’s Government would ask Rwanda for the UK’s money back, despite being asked the same question four times.
Appearing on Sky News, shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liz Kendall failed to answer the simple question, despite Labour having already pledged to spend that same money on solving Britain’s border crisis.
Asked by Trevor Phillips whether a Labour Government would ask Kigali to return to £290million already spent by Britain on the deportation partnership, Ms Kendall dodged the question, saying Labour “want to use the money spent on Rwandas to have a different plan that actually works”.
After detailing Labour’s alternative border proposals, Mr Phillips said he was “familiar with the plan”, but asked a second time whether Labour will ask the Rwandans for the money back.
Ms Kendall reiterated Labour’s plan to spend the money, but not actually secure its return.
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She said: “Well I want to see that money spent… I want to see that money spent on tackling the root causes of the problem, because it is a serious issue that concerns many people in this country.”
Mr Phillips pointed out Labour couldn’t spend the money if they didn’t get it back in the first place.
He pointed out that Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves “tells me ‘we’re not spending any money on anything’, so how are you going to do this?”
The Sky presenter asked three more times, each time Ms Kendall refused to say a Labour government would request the money back to fund their border proposals.
Ms Kendall accused the Government of spending £8million on hotels for asylum seekers a day, and argued “there is a better way for that money to be spent”.
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She also outlined Labour’s alternative plan, agreeing with the Government that there is a need to stop small boat crossings as they are “extremely bad for national security as well as the lives lost”.
“We want to spend that [money] on a new elite Cross Border Force to really tackle the criminal gangs that are driving this, and also to get rid of the asylum backlog which is costing £8million a day in hotel fees alone.
“We have an alternative plan.”
Asked whether Labour’s cross border force proposal would involve the SAS, she claimed it would involve working with other countries to “identify the supply routes, the networks to deal with the money these criminal gangs are making”.
“Even simple things like where are they getting the equipment, and really dealing with those problems”.
She conceded any plan would not stop the boats “overnight”, however, Mr Phillips accused Labour of copying much of the Tories’ existing border control policies but just promising to “do it a bit better”.
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