“Throwing minorities under the bus”: Starmer’s comments on Bangladeshi deportations spark outrage

Labour leader Keir Starmer has angered many in the UK’s Bangladeshi community after his comments about the removal of Bangladeshi refugees.

Speaking to Sun readers on Monday, the Labour leader said: “At the moment, people coming from countries like Bangladesh are not being removed.” He was asked what Labour would do to deport people who arrived in the UK illegally.

A clip of the response went viral on social media, with critics accusing Starmer of attacking the Bangladeshi community to score cheap political points on asylum and immigration. 

Shadow minister Jon Ashworth’s later comments about sending migrants “from countries like Bangladesh” back home didn’t help either.

Though Labour said the clip is ‘misinformation’, many were aghast at Starmer singling out Bangladeshis in the first place, given that they are not even in the top five countries for UK asylum claims.

On social media, people questioned why, when Labour was so ahead in the polls, it was still pandering to extreme right-wing talking points and throwing minorities “under the bus.”

In protest, a senior Labour councillor in Tower Hamlets, an area with many Bangladeshi residents, quit her post. Apsana Begum, a Bangladeshi MP in the borough, called out the “dog whistle racism.”

On Thursday, Starmer attempted to clarify his comments, stating he ‘certainly wasn’t intending to cause any concern or offence’ to British Bangladeshis, acknowledging their ‘enormous contribution to our country’.

He claimed he was pointing out Bangladesh’s status as a safe country with an existing UK returns agreement for asylum seekers.

Labour’s Bengali support dwindles

For decades, Labour could rely on the strong Bangladeshi support. But trust from this community — and Muslims in general — has eroded due to Starmer’s handling of Islamophobia within Labour and his more recent stance on the genocide in Gaza.

Tower Hamlets councillor Sabina Akhtar told the BBC that she felt Starmer unfairly ‘singled out’ the Bangladeshi community ‘who have loved and have always been loyal to the Labour Party.’

“It feels like our vote has been taken for granted just to please a small group of people,” Akhtar said, adding that the party’s front bench has hardened its “tone” and “language” on migration to target right-wing voters.

Apsana Begum, Labour’s candidate in the Tower Hamlets constituency of Poplar and Limehouse, said: “I will never ever stand by and let migrant communities be scapegoated.

“It is totally unacceptable for politicians, for any party, to use dog whistle racism against Bangladeshis or any other migrant community.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and the first British Bangladeshi elected to Parliament, gave a more muted response.

“The release of the clip featuring the Labour Party Leader has caused significant concern and distress,” she stated.

She noted that she had been ‘in close contact with his team to relay the concerns in our community.’

The response on social media platforms was swift and intense, with many users expressing outrage over Starmer’s comments.

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