UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer announced in his first news conference since taking office the termination of the controversial Rwanda deportation policy introduced by the former Conservative government.

The scheme to send asylum seekers to Kigali is officially scrapped, marking a significant policy shift under the new Labour government.

Starmer emphasized his commitment to ending what he described as ineffective and inhumane immigration measures.

“The Rwanda scheme was dead and buried before it started. It’s never been a deterrent,” he said at Downing Street.

He pointed to record numbers of migrants crossing the English Channel in the first half of 2024 as evidence of the policy’s failure.

“The chances were of not going and not being processed, and staying here, therefore, in paid-for accommodation for a very, very long time. It’s had the complete opposite effect and I’m not prepared to continue with gimmicks that don’t act as a deterrent,” he added.

The Labour Party had pledged to halt the Rwanda deportation plan “on day one” if elected, arguing that the policy was not only ineffective but costly and inhumane.

Starmer’s administration is now focused on addressing the root causes of illegal immigration and improving the UK’s asylum system.

To curb Channel crossings, Starmet outlined a strategy involving the hiring of specialist investigators and utilizing counter-terrorism powers to dismantle the criminal gangs facilitating the dangerous journeys.

Labour plans to redirect funds currently allocated for the Rwanda scheme toward enforcement activities. The party has proposed establishing a new “Border Security Command” to prosecute gangs operating small boat routes and enhancing security cooperation with the EU.

Additionally, Labour intends to empower police to search individuals suspected of people-smuggling and grant new powers to monitor their financial accounts.

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