Fresh Labour chaos over immigration as shadow cabinet minister defies Corbyn to BACK ID cards
- Shadow cabinet minister Barry Gardiner signalled support for ID card scheme
- Said that government needed a better way to ‘establish who is here legally’
- Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott both voted against ID cards during the 2000s
- Theresa May scrapped the idea when she took over the Home Office in 2010
Labour’s immigration policy was mired in fresh confusion today after a frontbencher backed the introduction of ID cards.
Shadow international trade minister Barry Gardiner said the government needed a better way to ‘establish who is here legally’.
But both Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott voted against ID cards when they were proposed a decade ago. And party sources have played down the idea of reviving the policy.
The tensions emerged after Ms Abbott refused nine time to spell out whether Labour wanted to deport up to a million illegal immigrants said to be in the UK.
Shadow international trade minister Barry Gardiner told the BBC’s Newsnight that the government needed a better way to ‘establish who is here legally’
In a toe-curling GMB interview yesterday, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott dodged as she was pressed to spell out whether she would take action to expel illegal immigrants
In a toe-curling interview with Piers Morgan on ITV’s GMB programme, she said she did not want an amnesty – but also rejected kicking them all out.
Mr Gardiner raised the idea of ID cards as he was pressed on how Labour would avoid a repeat of the Windrush fiasco.
“You need to try and have a system that can establish who is here legally,” he told BBC’s Newsnight.
Asked if he was supporting ID cards, Mr Gardiner said: “It was a policy the Labour Party had in 2009.
‘Theresa May when she became home secretary actually abolished that policy. But it would have given the government a way of knowing through those biometric ID cards who was here legally and who wasn’t.”
Pushed again on whether he supported ID cards, Mr Gardiner replied: “We need to have much better ways of tracking people through the system.”
Former Foreign Secretary Lord Hague today added his voice to calls for ID cards.
“It would be worth thinking again about bringing in universal identity cards,” Lord Hague wrote in his Telegraph column. “We Conservatives were against this a decade ago, but times have moved on.”
Yesterday Alan Johnson, and Charles Clarke, who both ran the Home Office under Labour in the 2000s, argued that biometric ID cards were the ‘best way to prove and so protect a citizen’s identity’.
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured on the local election campaign trail yesterday, voted against ID cards during the 2000s
Ken Clarke, who was Tory Home Secretary in the early 1990s, also said ID cards would help deal with illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East.
However, it is understood Theresa May has ruled out bringing in such a scheme, which critics say would breach civil liberties.
A Whitehall source said: ‘This Government is not going to introduce mandatory ID cards. It wasn’t the right policy when Labour first proposed it, and that remains the case.’
When Mrs May first entered the Home Office, she oversaw the destruction of Labour’s identity card database, scuppering a scheme which at that stage was voluntary. Only around 15,000 cards were ever distributed.
A law abolishing ID cards and the national identity register was the first to come out of the Home Office during the coalition government.
At the time Mrs May said it would ‘begin the process of reversing the erosion of civil liberties and restoring freedoms’.
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