Diane Abbott: Labour will maintain and extend freedom of movement if it wins election

Posted On: 
14th November 2019

A Labour government would "maintain and extend freedom of movement", Diane Abbott has declared.

Diane Abbott says Labour would extend free movement.
PA Images

The Shadow Home Secretary moved to clarify the party's position on immigration after the Conservatives pledged to cut the numbers of people moving to the UK from abroad.

Her comments came a day after Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said Labour's election manifesto should water down a motion passed at the party's annual conference calling for free movement to be extended beyond EU citizens.

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Mr McCluskey told The Guardian: "It’s wrong in my view to have any greater free movement of labour unless you get stricter labour market regulation."

But Ms Abbott tweeted: "The Labour Party is committed to maintaining & extending Freedom of Movement rights. But the Tories will remove those rights from the EU 3 Million. We will maintain them.

"The Tories break up families by barring spouses of British citizens, via an income requirement. Labour will scrap it, and extend Freedom of Movement rights to all those legally entitled to be here, including our own citizens among others."

Labour's splits on immigration burst into the open just 48 hours before the party is due to finalise its election manifesto at a "Clause 5" meeting of senior officials, including Ms Abbott and Mr McCluskey.

Home Secretary Priti Patel wrote to her Labour opposite number demanding Labour comes clean about its plans.

She said: "I have grave concerns over the policy agreed at your conference which would place enormous strain on our public services and represent a considerable departure from our democratic norms, or indeed to norms of any western-style democracy.

"Analysis shows that it could lead to a trebling of net migration into the UK to 840,000 people per year - which would put huge pressure on our NHS.

"Our national security would be imperilled by an “unconditional” right to family reunion which would give those subject to deportation orders, and those who have been deprived of their British citizenship after joining terrorist groups overseas the legal right to settle in the UK."

But Ms Abbott said the Tory analysis was "fake news".

"Unlike the Tories, we won’t scapegoat migrants or deport our own Windrush-generation citizens," she said. "The damage done to our society has been through damaging Conservative cuts to our public services, not by EU nationals coming to work in them."