POLITICS

Jeremy Corbyn Says Labour Not 'Wedded To Freedom Of Movement' In Relaunch Speech

'Britain can be better off after Brexit'

09/01/2017 22:00 GMT | Updated 09/01/2017 22:42 GMT
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Jeremy Corbyn will claim on Tuesday that “Britain can be better off after Brexit”, in his first major intervention of the year which will include a toughening of his line on immigration.

In a speech that has been billed as a relaunch of his leadership, Corbyn will say the country voted for Brexit to “regain control over our economy, our democracy and people’s lives”.

Significantly the Labour leader will go further than he has previously in accepting the argument that immigration must be cut following Brexit - and will set out how he believes that could be achieved.

Corbyn, who has been a staunch supporter of EU free movement of people rules, has been under pressure from Labour MPs to concede immigration is too high and must be brought down.

In his speech, Corbyn will say Labour is “not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle” and that there must be “fair rules and reasonably managed migration”.

“Unlike the Tories, Labour will not offer false promises on immigration targets or sow division by scapegoating migrants,” he will say.

“But Labour will take action against undercutting of pay and conditions by closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad and strengthening workplace protections.

“That would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal.”

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Kier Starmer has said freedom of movement rules “have got to be changed”.

“Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle. Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour leader will also say the party will “push to maintain full access to the European single market to protect living standards and jobs” but will attack the EU for its industrial policy.

“We will also press to repatriate powers from Brussels for the British government to develop a genuine industrial strategy essential for the economy of the future,” Corbyn is expected to say.

“Tory Governments have hidden behind EU state aid rules because they don’t want to intervene. But EU rules can also be a block on the action that’s needed to support our economy, decent jobs and living standards.

“Labour will use state aid powers in a drive to build a new economy, based on new technology and the green industries of the future.”

On Sunday, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said it was “unfair” to ask him what Labour’s policy on migration was when Theresa May had not set out a detailed Brexit plan herself.

The prime minister has denied she was necessarily backing a so-called hard Brexit that would take the UK out of the single market in order to EU escape freedom of movement rules and cut immigration. 

May insisted she could get a bespoke deal which maintained access to European markets while restoring controls over migration. 

She said told a press conference on Monday that Brexit provided an “opportunity to fundamentally change Britain for the better”.