POLITICS

Ed Miliband Ally John Denham Calls For Curbs On EU Migrants

03/06/2014 09:00 BST | Updated 03/06/2014 09:59 BST

A key ally of Ed Miliband has called on the Labour leader to dismiss the "politically correct" mindset about immigration and commit the party to curbing the number of EU migrants.

John Denham, who was Miliband's Private Parliamentary Secretary from 2011 to 2013 and Shadow Business Secretary under the Labour leader, wrote that fewer EU immigrants coming to Britain would be better "for the foreseeable future" and said dismissing concerns about the scale of immigration was "not a wise political strategy".

In a blog for the website Labour List, the Southampton Itchen MP urged his party to respond to the rise of Ukip, and not dismiss those who have concerns about immigration as a "milk and water Farage".

john denham miliband

John Denham (right) has urged Ed Miliband to talk tougher on immigration to tackle the rise of Ukip

He wrote: "We should work actively to reduce the number of EU migrants coming to the UK, and move closer to the relationship we have with the rest of the world.

"Of course, that is exactly what current policies – clamping down on dodgy agencies, enforcing minimum wage, requiring apprenticeships, tackling unregulated housing – are designed to do.

"But we are so politically correct we cannot admit that’s the aim, even though that’s exactly what most of our voters want to hear."

Denham's piece, entitled Home Truths On Migration, said many of the EU citizens who are entitled to come to Britain "are people we would reject if they came from anywhere else.

"If voters ask good questions, ignoring them is not a wise political strategy," he writes

Denham, who has previously said Labour does not appeal to voters in southern England, is a close former confidant of Miliband and was one of his earliest supporters in the 2010 Labour leadership contest.

In response to Nigel Farage's party's poll surge, Miliband has committed Labour to offering an in/out EU referendum if Brussels votes to transfer more powers but has so far resisted those within the party urging him to hold one in the next parliament no matter what.

In his blog, Denham defended Britain's EU membership.

He wrote: "Nigel Farage fully understands the consequences of leaving the EU.

"That’s why UKIP is so deeply committed to scrapping labour market protection, making the UK the home of the most unstable and unreliable investment, and letting the rich get richer.

"We will win more votes on this argument than trying to defend the current free movement rules."