Labor rejects Tony Blair's request for ID

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illustrate, Sir Tony Blair tried to introduce ID cards during his time as Prime Minister

The government has ruled out introducing digital ID cards after former Labor prime minister Sir Tony Blair said they could help control immigration.

Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds initially said the Home Secretary would “consider all sources of advice on this issue”.

However, he later told Times Radio that the ID cards were not part of the government's plans.

Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said ID cards did not appear in the party's election manifesto, adding: “That's not our approach.”

Sir Tony introduced legislation to make ID mandatory during his term, but the scheme was scrapped by the Conservative-Liberal Dem coalition government.

“In the office, I believe the best solution is an identity system so we know exactly who is authorized to be here.

“Again, as technology evolves, we should act as the world shifts to digital identities. If we don't, new border controls will have to be very effective.”

But asked if the introduction of digital IDs could be ruled out, Ms Cooper said: “That's not in our manifesto. It's not our approach.”

Instead, she said the government was setting up a new enforcement and deportation unit and targeting people-smuggling gangs to prevent small boats from crossing the border.

Asked about the possibility of introducing digital ID cards, Reynolds told Times Radio: “We can rule that out, it's not part of our plans.”

Opponents of the ID cards have raised concerns about the potential impact on civil liberties and what they see as unnecessary data collection by the state.

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illustrate, Tony Blair watches an asylum seeker being fingerprinted in 2003

Combating illegal immigration is one of the main challenges facing the new government.

More than 13,000 people have crossed the English Channel in small boats so far this year.

Although 2023 is overall lower than 2022, this number is still higher than the same period last year.

The previous Conservative government had hoped to send people arriving in the UK illegally to Rwanda to stop ships crossing the border.

However, no immigrants were sent to the country under the scheme before the Conservatives lost power.

Labor called the scheme an expensive “gimmick” and pledged to scrap it.

Instead, the party promised to create a new Border Security Command that would bring together Border Force officers, police and intelligence agencies and use counter-terrorism powers to target people-smuggling syndicates.

The government said recruitment for the command's leader will begin on Monday and the position could be filled in the coming weeks.

The previous Labor government issued the first identity cards to British citizens, and when the scheme was scrapped by the coalition government in 2011 and the database destroyed, there were 15,000 cards in circulation.

About 200,000 people were issued compulsory identity cards for foreigners, later renamed biometric residence permits.

Lord Blunkett, who launched the ID scheme when he was home secretary, claimed it was already having an impact on illegal immigration when it was abolished.

Earlier this year, he told the Daily Mail: “These gangs realize that trafficking people into the UK is a viable option if migrants find themselves unable to work or claim benefits without an identity card and could therefore be deported. Not worth it.

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