EXCL Labour will not appoint Shadow Immigration Minister

Posted On: 
16th November 2016

Labour will not appoint a separate immigration spokesperson because Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott wants to cover the brief herself, PoliticsHome has learned.

Diane Abbott has insisted she has the experience to speak for Labour on immigration
PA Images

Ms Abbott's office confirmed immigration was an issue “she cares deeply about” and insisted she had the “skills and experience” to stay on top of it alone.

Her confirmation comes after it emerged Labour had yet to replace Keir Starmer, who was Shadow Immigration Minister before he quit the frontbench in the summer. He has since been appointed Shadow Brexit Secretary.

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Fellow frontbencher Andrew Gwynne fuelled confusion this afternoon when he said he was “not aware” whether a new shadow immigration spokesperson had been appointed.

Appearing on the BBC's Daily Politics he did however agree such a role was “absolutely” important.

But Ms Abbott's office today confirmed Labour had no plans to draft someone new into the job.

A spokesperson told PoliticsHome: “Diane will be covering the role. It’s an issue she cares deeply about.

“She feels confident that she has the skills and experience to hold the Government to account over the increasingly toxic narrative around immigration.”

A source close to the Shadow Home Secretary added: “That’s how seriously Diane takes it - she wants to do it herself.”

And on Twitter Ms Abbott hit out at critics accusing her of "being silent" on immigration.

Mr Gwynne was taken to task by BBC Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil today for the failure to appoint a separate immigration spokesperson.

The Shadow Minister Without Portfolio said: “We have a Shadow Home Secretary, so Diane Abbott speaks on these issues in the House of Commons.

“At this moment in time it’s Diane Abbott as the Shadow Home Secretary. I’m not aware there is a specific shadow minister been appointed yet.”

Tory former frontbencher Dominic Raab told the Sun yesterday: “It’s clearer than ever that Labour are completely out of touch with the concerns of ordinary working people.

“Jeremy Corbyn wants to open the doors to unlimited immigration and can’t even be bothered to appoint a Shadow Immigration Minister.”

Elsewhere, Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis yesterday broke ranks with the leadership on the issue of immigration when he said the free movement of people “hasn’t worked” for everyone in Britain.