Yvette Cooper torn apart by Tory over Labour’s plan to strike EU migrant deal

Yvette Cooper says UK needs migrant return deal with EU

Labour’s plan to strike a migrant returns agreement with the EU has been torn apart by Theresa May’s former joint chief of staff.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the UK needs a “comprehensive new agreement” with the bloc like the Dublin Regulation.

The EU law, which Britain has not been bound by since Brexit, allows for asylum seekers to be sent back to the first country.

But Nick Timothy, who is the Tory candidate for Matt Hancock’s seat at the next general election, said: “Here we go again.

“In 2017 under the Dublin Regulation 314 migrants were transferred out of the UK and 461 migrants were transferred to the UK. The year before the numbers were 362 and 558. Dublin didn’t work. Labour aren’t serious.”

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Ms Cooper admitted the deal was not a “panacea” but insisted it has to be the “focus”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What we need is a comprehensive new agreement with the EU and with France and with neighbouring countries as well.

“To be fair to Theresa May she did propose stronger security cooperation, stronger other measures and partnerships, and David Frost abandoned many of those things when they were looking at what the new deal and agreements should be.

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“What you need to do is to look at the safe returns and also safe routes, for example for people who have family in the UK, the kinds of things that we had as part of the Dublin agreement.”

Pressed on why the EU would agree to such a deal, she went on: “In the end this has to be the focus because these are our nearest neighbours, this is a shared problem that we have in terms of what’s happening with the criminal gangs operating across Europe, you have people travelling across Europe.

“So many people argue that actually things have got worse since we lost the Dublin agreement.

“I agree that the Dublin agreement wasn’t a panacea, but it did include the ability to have returns to other European countries and also safe routes for example, for unaccompanied asylum seekers, children who had family in the UK, so they weren’t being exploited by criminal gangs or trying to make these dangerous crossings as well.”

Earlier on the programme, immigration minister Robert Jenrick said the Dublin Regulation “didn’t work well”.

He said: “In fact in the last year’s operation more individuals were brought from the continent to the UK than were sent in the other direction.

“It’s not something other European countries weigh in behind these days, that has moved on significantly now and the EU itself is exploring other arrangements.”

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