Tony Blair has warned politicians not to scapegoat immigrants, who he said bring “great energy and fresh initiative” to the United Kingdom.
Invited to speak to the parliamentary press gallery on Tuesday, the former prime minister said while migration to the UK “had to be controlled”, overall, immigration "has been good for Britain".
“The fact is immigrants contribute a lot to our country,” he said. “Let’s not end up targeting immigrants.”
“Don’t make them a scapegoat for our problems,” he urged. And he defended the policies of his government that accepted migrants from Eastern Europe when the European Union expanded. “The Polish community brings a lot to this country,” he said.
Pressed on the issue by reporters, Blair was careful to avoid any implicit criticism of current Labour leader Ed Miliband who he said was “right to speak out” on the issue last week.
In a major policy address, Miliband said Britain needed "comprehensive strategy for integration" to help cope with the pressures of a multi-ethnic society.
He also unveiled plans to expect migrants to learn English, tackle landlords who pack newcomers to the UK into overcrowded houses and ban recruitment agencies from seeking workers only from particular countries or ethnic groups
During a question and answer session with journalists, Blair also warned talk of leaving the European Union was “dangerous and damaging”, but said politicians should not “get preoccupied with referendums”.