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Top Stories: Keir Starmer Sets Out Five "Missions", Independent Football Regulator To Be Launched

Keir Starmer is set to outline his party's five key missions on Thursday (Alamy)

5 min read

Labour leader Keir Starmer is preparing to set out his five "missions" which will form key pledges in the party's next general election manifesto as he promised to restore "pride and purpose" in the UK.

Starmer is expected to use a major speech in Manchester on Thursday to set out the pledges, and say that the country needed a "serious plan" to fix economic and societal issues.

The five "missions" are expected to flesh out the party's approach to major issues, including tackling debt and driving growth, while also helping fix the NHS backlog and addressing crime.

The set piece echoes Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s New Year speech to announce his own five priorities for the year, including reducing the deficit, improving growth, addressing issues in the health service and reducing the numbers of migrants crossing the Channel.

Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, Starmer said Sunak's pledges were "sticking plaster politics" and promised a closer relationship with the public and private sector to "get the job done".

Starmer said his plan would provide a framework for his party's election manifesto which would address the "fundamental" and help restore "pride and purpose" in the UK.

"The idea behind this is really based on the frustrations, the everyday frustrations that people have that almost nothing seems to be working, everything needs to be fixed and all we've really ever had for many years now is sticking-plaster politics."

"The classic example of that is the NHS. We have a winter crisis in the NHS every year. We just about fix it, get through to the summer and then go back into the next year's winter crisis."

He added: "We can't just go on every year doing the same thing. We need something which is longer term.

"So this is the big fixing the fundamentals to make sure we can restore, if you like, the pride and purpose to Britain, the great potential that our country has."

Rishi Sunak is set to latest proposals to tackle the backlog of asylum seeker claims

Asylum seekers are set to be given an 11-page document to fill out or face having their claims refused according to a leaked Home Office document.

The plan, which is reportedly expected to be launched this week, will see around 12,000 asylum claimants being sent the document with a warning that failure to respond within 20 working days putting their applications at risk.

Ministers are scrambling to clear the backlog, which is expected to reach 150,000 for the first time in 20 years, as a result of a major surge in people crossing the Channel in small boats.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in January that tackling the backlog was one of his government's key priorities as anger continues to grow within his own party over the surge in arrivals.

The leaked letter, seen by The Guardian, said: "A failure to return the questionnaire without reasonable explanation may result in an individual's asylum claim being withdrawn in line with the published policy on withdrawing asylum claims."

People crossing the ChannelThe paper reported the document will tell claimants it "must be completed in English" and suggested they use online translation tools to assist them will filling it out.

But the plans have drawn criticism from refugee groups, with Caitlin Boswell, the policy and campaigns manager at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, saying it could put people's safety at risk.

"People fleeing desperate circumstances clearly need this government to make quicker and fairer asylum decisions, but this latest move from government is clumsy, unthinking and could put people's safety at risk," she said.

"No one's right to refuge should be jeopardised because they weren't able to fill in an unwieldy form in a language they don't speak."

Speaking earlier this week, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the backlog was causing "understandable tensions within communities" as she pledged to tackle the "unsustainable" situation.

"It’s clear that we have an unsustainable situation in towns and cities around our country whereby, because of the overwhelming numbers of people arriving here illegally and our legal duties to accommodate them, we are now having to house them in hotels," she told GB News.

"And that is causing understandable tensions within communities, pressures on local resources and is frankly unsustainable."

New independent football regulator to be launched to ensure financial stability

Ministers are set to launch a new independent football regulator following a fan-led review into how the game was run.

The government is expected to publish a white paper on football governance on Thursday, setting out the plan for a regulator "established in law to oversee the financial sustainability of the game and put fans back at the heart of how football is run".

As part of the new regime, clubs will be forced to prove they have "sound financial business models" and good corporate governance structures or face being banned from play.

The new watchdog will also be handed powers to stop English football clubs from joining new leagues if the move could "harm the domestic game".

Football fans at a match

In 2021 six English teams were forced to abandon their plans to join the controversial European Super League after a major backlash from fans.

Plans for a new regulator have after an extensive fan-led review in football governance led by Conservative MP and former sports minister Tracey Crouch which was launched after the Bury and Macclesfield Town clubs went out of business as a result of mismanagement.

Announcing the latest move, Sunak said the "bold" plans would help "safeguard the beautiful game for future generations".

"Since its inception over 165 years ago, English football has been bringing people together, providing a source of pride for communities and inspiration to millions of fans across the country," he said in a statement.

"Yet despite the success of the sport both at home and abroad, we know that there are real challenges which threaten the stability of clubs both big and small.

"These bold new plans will put fans back at the heart of football, protect the rich heritage and traditions of our much-loved clubs and safeguard the beautiful game for future generations."

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