‘Out of Touch’: Labour Leader Slammed for Past Comments Backing Return of ISIS Bride Shamima Begum to Britain

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Labour Leader Keir Starmer meets with NHS staff at University College London Hospital to thank them for their work throughout the coronavirus pandemic on July 01, 2020 in London, England. The NHS will celebrate it's 72nd anniversary on Sunday. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty …
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Before becoming the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer was one of the leading voices calling for the return of ISIS bride Shamima Begum to the United Kingdom.

In recently-unearthed comments, the then shadow Brexit Secretary said that the government’s attempt to block the return of the British-Bangladesh dual national was the “wrong decision” and a “rushed decision”.

“I think the decision by the Home Secretary was the wrong decision and I think it was a rushed decision. I think it left out of the count the interests of the newly born child who has tragically died. I think the Home Secretary should also have really looked at what powers were available to him to deal with the case as it came back,” Starmer told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge in 2019.

“Alternatively, if there is not enough evidence, if she came back and there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute, you could also have a prevention order which is where you can’t prosecute, but you think measures are necessary,” Starmer went on.

The former Home Secretary to whom Starmer was referring was Sajid Javid, who has cautioned in the past that permitting Begum back into Britain would “create a national security risk”.

In a statement given to the Mail on Sunday, Labour attempted to distance the party from Sir Keir’s comments, saying: ‘We will not be welcoming the prospect of anyone returning to this country who wish us harm.”

Shamima Begum, now 20 years old, travelled to Syria when she was 15 to marry the Dutch-born Islamic State fighter Yago Riedijk. Begum has been accused of acting as a “strict enforcer” of ISIS laws, “such as dress codes for women”.  A senior intelligence source told the Daily Mail last year that her “former comrades” had claimed Begum had “literally stitch[ed] the vests” of suicide bombers during the now-defunct ISIS caliphate.

Earlier this week, the Court of Appeal in the UK announced that Begum will be allowed to return to Britain to fight the 2019 ruling of the government to strip her of her British citizenship. The court said that the decision was based on their belief that she would not be able to receive a “fair hearing” from Syria.

The Home Office said that the ruling from the court was “disappointing” and vowed to “apply for permission to appeal” the decision.

In response to Sir Keir’s comments, Conservative MP Richard Holden told The Sun: “The fact that under Sir Keir Starmer and his comrades, Labour have decided to back Begum over Britain shows just how out of touch they are.”

“This shows Labour is on the side of those who want to do us harm,” Holden added.

Former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney noted that Starmer “was a leading voice to cancel Brexit, kneeled for Black Lives Matter, who want to abolish the police” and “led the charge to allow ISIS bride Shamima Begum to return to [the] UK”.

“He couldn’t be more out of touch with public mood if he tried!” Mr Daubney remarked.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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