- Opposition party cites `whistleblowers' inside agency
- Home Office says Border Force budget still being determined
Britain’s opposition Labour party said the government is planning to cut its border force budget by 6 percent in each of the next two years, citing “whistleblowers” within the agency that it didn’t identify.
The reduction would result in 88 million pounds ($124 million) of cuts during that span, Labour said on its website Saturday. Border Force staff say they were told in internal meetings to expect two years of 6 percent cuts, the party said.
The “Border Force’s planned budget for 2016/17 and 2017/2018 is still being agreed,” a Home Office spokesman said in response. “This government has demonstrated that we will take all the necessary measures to maintain the security of our borders.”
Labour’s claims follow March 22 suicide bombings in Brussels that left more than 30 people dead, and the U.K. budget a week earlier that saw the government criticized for spending cuts, both by the opposition parties and some Conservative lawmakers. Counter-terrorism investigations in several European countries are advancing amid fears of further assaults.
Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham called on his counterpart in the Conservative government, Theresa May, to disclose the border force’s spending plans.
“This is the worst possible time to be cutting U.K. border security,” Burnham said. The government’s “austerity drive is putting our country at risk,” he said.