Many people have contacted me about the recent terrible tragedy in the Mediterranean.
Last year 3,000 men, women and children died as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea. They fled because they were avoiding war and poverty, and ended up putting their lives in the hands of ruthless people smugglers. The fact that this has happened again, with 1,200 estimated to be dead, is truly unforgivable.
We need to work with our partners in the European Union to help resolve the immediate crisis. As you may know, on 20th April the European Commission proposed a 10-point plan that would increase resources and actions to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean and Heads of Government agreed a plan last weekend. Labour welcomes this response, but I think that European Governments were wrong to drop search and rescue last year. I believe it was appalling and inhumane to argue – as the Coalition Government did – that this was justified to deter others from travelling too.
My colleague, Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, has said that it is extremely important that Europe has promised to increase the mission at sea and that anything short of a properly resourced and extensive search and rescue mission will be a moral failure. A future Labour Government will also ensure that the United Kingdom continues it history of providing refuge for those fleeing persecution by upholding our international obligations.
I can assure you that the next Labour Government will do all it can to ensure that we never see a tragedy like this again.