By Isabel Ringrose
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2905

Starmer’s week of betrayals—attacking refugees, embracing hard right Tory MP

Tories are welcome in Labour—but not Jeremy Corbyn or Diane Abbott
Issue 2905
Keir Starmer and former Tory Natalie Elphicke having a warm handshake

Keir Starmer is all smiles as he welcomes Tory Natalie Elphicke to Labour

Labour’s Keir Starmer wants to use terror laws against refugees crossing the English Channel—and he will not bring back anyone deported to Rwanda by the Tories.

He said that he would pile on repression and that “safe routes” to stop people drowning was not the answer.

In Deal near Dover last Friday Starmer signalled his determination to outbid Rishi Sunak over stopping and deporting refugees.

The Daily Mail enthused, “The Labour leader hardened up his stance against the government’s Channel boats strategy as he paraded Tory defector Natalie Elphicke at a speech in her Dover constituency.”

Starmer slammed the Rwanda policy as a “gimmick” and a “waste of money”—but insisted he would replace it with a border security command bringing together the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and MI5 spies.

Starmer pledged Labour will not allow any deportation flights to take off for Rwanda from the moment it wins an election.

But he announced a plan to divert £75 million to fund hundreds of specialist officers with new counter-terrorism powers.

He said the policy would bring “an end to the fragmentation between policing, the border force and our intelligence agencies” and create a new “elite force” for border protection.

“We will restore serious government to our borders. Starmer also promised to rebuild the “broken asylum system” and said Britain was seen as a “soft touch”.

He ignores the fact that most of those who claim asylum in Britain have their cases granted—and that the vast majority of refugees go to poorer countries or other European states.

Britain’s so-called “soft touch” has left tens of thousands trapped in the asylum system in fear, with the backlog growing because they’re deemed “illegal”.

“The most effective way to stop the crossings is to break gangs,” Starmer said—rather than safe and legal routes.

He said there were already safe and legal routes for asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Hong Kong.

But this does nothing to help the thousands of refugees from other countries fleeing for safety. And many from Afghanistan are also denied entry.

Starmer said that he “was not interested in repatriating people” already deported to east Africa.

In a theatrical message supposedly to smuggling gangs but actually to refugees, he proclaimed, “These shores will become hostile territory for you—we will find you. We will stop you. We will secure Britain’s borders.”

The only way to stop the dangerous crossings is to let people in through safe and legal routes—and to grant asylum to those stuck in Britain’s racist asylum system.

Stand Up To Racism said, “Until the British government introduces safe routes for people to come to Britain and claim asylum there will always be a gap in the market for criminal gangs to exploit. Labour must commit to safe passage for asylum seekers.”

Labour embraces Tory MP who  defended her abusive husband  

Keir Starmer is under pressure from the Conservatives to investigate his new MP, the hard right former Tory Natalie Elphicke.

She tried to get judges to go softer on her abuser husband.

Last Wednesday Elphicke walked across the Commons during prime minister’s question time to join the Labour Party.

Her former husband Charlie Elphicke was jailed in 2020 for two years for sexually assaulting two women.

She became the MP for Dover in 2019 after winning the seat when her husband stood down.

In 2020 the lord chief justice’s office cited her for an “improper” attempt to influence a judge hearing the trial. She was handed a one-day suspension in 2021.

Elphicke says she will step down at the general election. She also apologised for saying that her husband’s conviction was because he was an “easy target” because he was “attractive”.

But once she had joined Labour, the Tories put out new allegations about her.

According to former lord chancellor Robert Buckland, Elphicke lobbied him while she was a Tory MP.

She told Buckland that it was unfair that her then-husband’s case was the first to be heard at Southwark Crown Court after lockdown, and with senior judge Lady Justice Whipple.

It’s a bizarre situation. The Tories now condemn someone who a week ago they would have said had suffered enough.

And Labour now embraces an MP who a week ago they would have condemned.

Labour’s latest tactic is to target Buckland for delaying the revelations of a cover-up rather than being embarrassed by the actual cover-up.

 Labour MP Chris Bryant said that “if anybody should be being investigated by the parliamentary commissioner for standards” it should be Buckland.

Starmer has welcomed Elphicke with open arms, telling her, “It’s great to have you”.

He added, “This changed Labour Party ought to be a place where reasonably minded people, whichever way they have voted in the past, feel that they can join in our project to change the country for the better.

“We should be less tribal in the pursuit of a better country, and invite people to our party to join in national renewal.”

Starmer’s spokesperson last Wednesday refused to rule out letting vile racist Nigel Farage into the party in the wake of Elphicke’s defection.

Welcoming Elphicke has upset even some of Starmer’s staunchest supporters.

Former Labour leader Lord Neil Kinnock was among those to question the move.

On the party’s left, national executive members Jess Barnard and Mish Rahman called for the Labour whip to be suspended from Elphicke.

Barnard argued that accepting the former Tory MP was a “colossal error of judgement” from Starmer which “undermines the fight against sexual harassment and is totally inconsistent with Labour values”.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance