Jeremy Corbyn rows back on tough immigration stance
Jeremy Corbyn today watered down plans to get tough on immigration as he insisted Labour could still back the freedom of movement of EU citizens.
A major speech on Brexit he delivered this afternoon was hastily rewritten following a backlash from some of his supporters.
One section of the address released to journalists last night, said: "Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle."
Mr Corbyn began to row back on that stance during a round of media interviews this morning when he said: "We’re not saying that anyone couldn’t come here."
By the time he delivered the speech, an extra section had been added which diluted the original passage.
He said: "Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.
"When it comes to border controls, we are proud to say we will meet our international obligations to refugees fleeing wars and persecution.
"To those EU citizens who are already here, we will guarantee your rights. And we continue to welcome international students who come to study in this country.
"We cannot afford to lose full access to the European markets on which so many British businesses and jobs depend. Changes to the way migration rules operate from the EU will be part of the negotiations.
"Labour supports fair rules and the reasonable management of migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU, while putting jobs and living standards first in the negotiations.
"At the same time, taking action against undercutting of pay and conditions, closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad and strengthening workplace protections would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal."
The Conservatives seized on the confusion to attack the Labour leader.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s chaotic relaunch hasn’t even made it past breakfast time,” said Tory MP Dominic Raab.
“First he said Labour wasn’t wedded to freedom of movement, now he says that there are circumstances in which he could keep it.
“Given that Corbyn has previously said that he’s not concerned about the number of people coming to this country, it is clear that Labour simply will not get control of immigration.
“The question is, do Labour believe that Brexit must mean taking control of immigration from Europe or not? Their answer is no.”