Rees-Mogg heckled after branding Labour ‘party of people traffickers’

Labour opposes the Nationality and Borders Bill, saying it fails to deal with organised crime groups.

A boat thought to be used in a migrant crossing (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A boat thought to be used in a migrant crossing (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Jacob Rees-Mogg was heckled after claiming Labour has “become the party of people traffickers”, amid an ongoing row over immigration reforms.

The Nationality and Borders Bill is making its way through the Commons and aims to curb English Channel crossings and change how asylum claims are processed.

But Labour opposes the legislation and argued it fails to deal with serious and organised crime groups who are “profiteering” from human trafficking and modern slavery.

The party adds it also fails to re-establish safe routes for refugees to enter the UK.

Commons Leader Mr Rees-Mogg defended the Government’s approach before making the contentious claim in the chamber.

He said: “We have complaints about the Government’s policy on immigration by an Opposition opposed to the Borders bill.

“We have complaints that we’re not being tough enough on stopping people coming in to this country, and then the efforts to make it tougher are opposed.

“But this country has a proud record on ensuring that there are routes for refugees.

“We’ve settled 25,000 refugees over the last five years and a further 29,000 refugees through family reunion.

“We have to make our borders safe, we have to have safe routes for those who have a genuine fear of persecution but we have to stop the people traffickers.

“And the Opposition has become the party of people traffickers.

“It doesn’t want to do anything effective and cries crocodile tears whilst it opposes the Government’s efforts to be effective in dealing with our borders.

“They’re the ones who should be ashamed.”

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire had earlier said: “We’ve heard lots about a broken asylum system from the benches opposite, but they’re the ones who have broken it.

“In the last year alone, 33,000 people were waiting more than 12 months for an initial decision on their asylum claim, many in my own constituency, 10 times more than the amount in 2010.

“The appalling crime of people trafficking must be stopped but this Bill doesn’t do that, it fails on its own terms, because there are no commitments on refugee resettlement or family reunion.

“And despite a lot of rhetoric, safe routes have not been properly reopened.”

Ms Debbonaire said “just 25” refugees were resettled in March this year.

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