Jeremy Corbyn: There can be no limit on immigration inside the EU

Posted On: 
19th June 2016

Jeremy Corbyn today insisted there can be no limit on immigration while Britain is a member of the EU - as he denied Labour was out of touch with its traditional voters on the issue.

Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show this morning
Credit: 
BBC

Mr Corbyn said it was the austerity policies of eurozone countries which forced their citizens to come to Britain looking for a better life - and said the Government should come up with more cash to help public services in the UK cope with the influx.

​He also blamed "several years of endless newspaper headlines" for the anti-immigration feeling in large parts of the country.

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Appearing on the BBC's Andrer Marr Show, Mr Corbyn was asked directly whether he thought there should be an upper limit on the numbers coming to the UK.

He said: "I don't think you can have one while you have the free movement of labour, and the free movement of labour means that you have to balance the economy. 

"So you have to improve living standards and conditions and so that means the EU's appalling treatment of Greece is a problem.

"If you deliberately lower living standards and increase poverty in south eastern Europe, then you're bound to have a flow of people looking for somewhere to go.

"Surely the issue is an anti-austerity, growth package all across Europe rather than this."

Mr Corbyn said instead of blaming immigrants, Labour voters should instead be attacking government spending cuts.

He said: "It's a failure of our government to properly fund local authorities, it's a failure of our government to provide housing for people, it's a failure of our government for attacking school budgets. 

"It's that that is the problem and they should turn their anger against this government and the austerity that's been put forward by Cameron and Osborne over the past six years."

The Labour leader called for the re-establishment of a migration impact fund to help communities which have seen large numbers of immigrants arrive from the EU.

He also said EU workers should have access to the same pay and conditions as British-born employees.

"There has to be a greater equality of working conditions, a prevention of under-cutting, an end of the race to the bottom in working conditions," Mr Corbyn said.

"At the end of the day, workers working alongside each other should be paid the same, treated the same and have the same rights - at the moment, they don't."

He added: "There is no uncontrolled immigration, there is free movement of people across the EU that goes both ways - more than two million British people are living in Europe. There is controlled immigration from outside Europe.

"I represent a very mixed constituency where there are great problems of getting family reunions and there are not equal rights for people coming in from Europe - they don't get benefits and they don't get access to benefits. It's not totally uncontrolled."