Former home secretary Lord Blunkett warns Jeremy Corbyn he must ignore a ‘crazy’ vote by Labour activists to extend freedom of movement as he says the party has to stop facing ‘two ways’ on immigration before election
- Lord Blunkett said the Labour Party is currently facing ‘two ways’ on immigration
- He said party must be ‘absolutely clear’ on issue when it publishes its manifesto
- Jeremy Corbyn said there would be ‘a great deal of movement’ if he becomes PM
- Labour delegates voted to ‘maintain and extend’ free movement at conference
Lord Blunkett has criticised the Labour leadership for facing ‘two ways’ on the crunch issue of immigration
Lord Blunkett today warned Jeremy Corbyn he must stop facing ‘two ways’ on immigration as he urged the Labour leadership to finally adopt a single, clear stance on the issue.
The former home secretary said Labour needed to be ‘absolutely clear’ on its approach to border control when it publishes its general election manifesto later this week.
Activists voted at the party’s annual conference in September to ‘maintain and extend free movement rights’ – something the Tories seized upon as evidence that a Labour government would introduce uncontrolled immigration.
Mr Corbyn has been asked repeatedly during the election campaign whether Labour will support continued freedom of movement from the EU in its manifesto.
But he has so far failed to set out in any detail what Labour’s approach will be and yesterday sparked further uncertainty as he said there would be ‘a great deal of movement’ if he becomes prime minister on December 12.
Lord Blunkett described the free movement policy voted through by Labour delegates as ‘crazy’ and urged Mr Corbyn to defy it in the party’s election blueprint when it is released on Thursday.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live he said: ‘You’ve got to be very careful that you don’t face two ways. People have got to be absolutely clear as to what Labour’s policy is.
‘And as far as I can see from what the leadership have been saying, they understand that that conference vote was crazy.’
Asked directly by host Emma Barnett whether that meant he believed Labour is facing two ways on immigration, Lord Blunkett replied: ‘Yes, and by Thursday they need to be absolutely clear.
‘And I think because of the intervention of the trade unions, they will be – that we have positive but properly managed, controlled migration.’
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured at a CBI business event in London today, said yesterday there would be ‘a great deal of movement’ under a Labour government
Lord Blunckett also savaged the Labour leadership for failing to publicly oppose the free movement motion which was agreed at party conference.
He said: ‘Now, in the old days, we’d have stood up at conference and challenged those moving that motion, we’d have done everything we could to have voted it down.
‘The policy at the moment appears to be, let them have their day, and then reinterpret it.
‘My interpretation would be that we need to ensure that we can recruit from abroad for those areas of our economy where we simply cannot get people, either with the right skills or the willingness to take the jobs and get people to do them.’
Labour said in its 2017 general election manifesto: ‘Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union.’
But that policy looks likely to be ditched after Mr Corbyn said yesterday that there would be ‘a great deal of movement’ under Labour’s immigration plans.
He stopped short of saying the party’s manifesto would ‘maintain or extend’ freedom of movement amid an internal row about a possible loss of votes in its working class heartlands.
Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show if the policy agreed at conference will be in the manifesto, Mr Corbyn said: ‘There will be a great deal of movement. You will know on Thursday.’
Labour sources had said at the time of the original conference vote that Mr Corbyn would abide by decisions made by delegates.
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