Keir Starmer played key role in blocking Tony Blair’s plan to block asylum seekers’ right to claim benefits 20 years ago
- Keir Starmer played role in overturning attempt to strip asylum seekers’ benefits
- The attempt was made by ex Prime Minister Tony Blair 20 years ago
- Read more: Rishi unloads on Keir Starmer over Channel boats crisis at PMQs
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer played a key role in overturning an attempt by Tony Blair 20 years ago to strip asylum seekers of the right to claim benefits.
The action – which can be revealed just days after Rishi Sunak announced plans to extinguish the right of small-boats migrants to claim asylum – was taken by Sir Keir after Labour introduced the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act in 2002.
The then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, tried to use the legislation to deal with visa over-stayers who suddenly claimed asylum and then spent years trying to establish their claim, during which time they were able to claim state benefits.
The law said that if claimants didn’t apply for asylum ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ after arriving in the country, they would be ineligible for benefit payments. It was challenged by human rights lawyer Sir Keir in the High Court in 2003, acting on behalf of five asylum seekers on the grounds that it contravened the ‘right to food and shelter’ enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer played a key role in overturning an attempt by Tony Blair 20 years ago to strip asylum seekers of the right to claim benefits
The action – which can be revealed just days after Rishi Sunak announced plans to extinguish the right of small-boats migrants to claim asylum – was taken by Sir Keir after Labour introduced the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act in 2002
After the High Court ruled in Sir Keir’s favour, Mr Blunkett said: ‘I am personally fed up with having to deal with the situation where Parliament debates issues and the judges overturn them.’
Last week the Prime Minister called Sir Keir ‘just another Lefty lawyer standing in our way’.
Lord Blunkett, who has warned that the Government’s plan to tackle illegal immigration is ‘not doable’, said last night that at the time Sir Keir ‘was doing his job and I was doing mine’. The Labour leader declined to comment.
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