KEIR Starmer has said that anyone who disagrees with his immigration plans is “un-British”.

Writing in The Sun, Starmer laid out his plans to stop small boat crossings and send those who arrive illegally back to the EU.

He said that, if he becomes UK prime minister, he will seek an EU-wide returns agreement for asylum seekers who come to the UK and treat those who smuggle people across the channel in small boats “on par” with terrorists.

He said: "With a Labour ­government, those who make British lives a misery will face British force — and British justice."

READ MORE: Majority of Scots views immigration as positive, poll finds

However, he also appeared to disparage those who disagreed with his conclusions about immigration.

“There are some who say that Labour shouldn’t talk about immigration or shouldn’t believe in secure borders,” he said.

“On the other side, there are some who want us to turn our back on the world and shut up shop.

“Both are wrong.

“Both are un-British.”

The Labour leader indicated he could be prepared to do a deal with Brussels which would involve the UK taking a quota of asylum seekers who arrive in the bloc in exchange for the ability to return people who cross the English Channel.

But he insisted that his focus was on ensuring that an anti-terrorism style international crackdown could smash the gangs behind the “vile” trade, preventing people from leaving in small boats from France in the first place.

Starmer visited The Hague, in the Netherlands, for talks with the EU’s Europol law enforcement agency.

Deepening intelligence ties with Europe as part of a new post-Brexit security pact, and strengthening powers to restrict the movement of those suspected of organised immigration crime, would form part of Starmer’s plan.

The National: Keir Starmer and Yvette Cooper want to see those smuggling people across the Channel treated on par with terrorists Keir Starmer and Yvette Cooper want to see those smuggling people across the Channel treated on par with terrorists (Image: Stefan Rousseau)

But the Tories seized on the suggestion that he would be prepared to negotiate with Brussels on the possibility of accepting a migrant quota as part of an EU-wide returns deal for people crossing the Channel.

UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay said that would amount to “giving up control of our immigration policy”.

And Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, claimed Starmer wanted to give the EU the final say on immigration policy. 

She tweeted: "He’ll let Brussels decide who comes to the UK. He’ll agree to make Britain the dumping ground for many of the millions of illegal migrants that Europe doesn’t want. And none of this will stop the boats."

Humza Yousaf responded to her comments on Twitter/X, saying: "Just woeful. The data tells us that migration is good for this country and is needed to help with our labour shortages.

"Migrants also contribute to our culture, academia, public service, and in many other ways. What a pathetically insular country the UK has become."

But Starmer argued that under the Tories “we are not deciding, as a country, who is coming to the UK – the gangs are deciding”.

As part of its plans, Labour says it would work to reach a new agreement to share real-time intelligence with the EU similar to the Schengen Information System II, a database of terror suspects and immigration offenders, to which the UK had automatic access before Brexit.

The party has also vowed to strengthen powers to restrict the movement of people smugglers by making it quicker and easier to obtain civil orders, known as serious crime prevention orders, which are used to target offenders such as terrorists and drug traffickers.

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More British officers would be stationed in Europe under the plans, with a “cross-border police force” focused solely on disrupting criminal gangs, Labour said.

In an interview with The Times newspaper, Starmer added that he would also seek an EU-wide returns agreement for asylum seekers who arrive in Britain, which may involve a “quid pro quo” of accepting quotas of migrants from the bloc.

“That would be part of any discussions and negotiations with Europe,” he told The Times.

He would not be drawn on the number of asylum seekers he would be happy to take in under a deal with the European Union.

The Labour leader told ITV’s Good Morning Britain his main aim was ensuring that people did not make it across the English Channel in the first place.

He said: “The first stage is: how do you work with police forces across countries to ensure that you stop people getting into the boats in the first place, and smash this vile trade?

“And that is about working here in Europol, working across Europe, to ensure that the criminals are brought down, that they are treated in the same way that we treat terrorists. So that’s stage one.

“The question of whether people can then be returned only applies if people are still getting across the Channel, and what I want to do is to stop this trade, stop this vile business in the first place.”

It comes after a poll found that the majority of Scots feel positively about immigration, with two-fifths wanting to see an increase.