Labour reveals its true colours on immigration: Party’s chair admits numbers arriving will rise under a Keir Starmer government as Tories claim he would ‘happily allow uncontrolled migration’
- Labour party chair Anneliese Dodds said migration would ‘rise in the short term’
- In Japan for the G7 summit, Rishi Sunak admitted immigration was ‘too high’
Labour has admitted it wants to bring more foreign workers into the UK.
The party’s chairman said yesterday that migration would rise ‘in the short term’ under a government led by Sir Keir Starmer.
Anneliese Dodds said numbers would eventually fall as home-grown workers became better trained – but refused to set a target.
Her admission raises fresh fears over what Labour will do if it wins power, coming just days after it emerged Sir Keir wants to give millions of EU migrants the vote and reopen Brexit.
The Tories were also embroiled in a furious row over immigration last night after Rishi Sunak refused to set a tough new limit, even though figures to be published next week are expected to hit a record high.
Asked by Sky News if Labour wanted net migration – the number of new arrivals minus those leaving Britain – to go up or down, Ms Dodds replied: ‘Actually Labour believes that setting a net migration target isn’t sensible and it appears even Rishi Sunak knows that.’
Pressed twice more on the issue, she said: ‘What we would see if we had an immigration system that was working properly would be potentially in some areas where there’s a short-term need for skills, you could see in the short-term actually people who are coming in, increasing in number.
‘But in the medium and long-term, a reduction, because we would be training people up in our own country.’
Conservative Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson said: ‘This is more concrete evidence of Labour’s undeniable plans to open the borders.
‘Not only would he drag us back into the EU, now it’s clear Sir Keir would happily allow uncontrolled migration.
‘Only the Conservatives can be trusted to deliver the people’s priorities and stop the boats.’
Senior Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg said of Labour’s plan to rely on cheap foreign labour: ‘It’s the wrong structure for the economy and a reminder of the economic illiteracy of the Labour Party.’
Backbencher Michael Fabricant added: ‘The fear many people have, myself included, is that they will be non-discriminatory about whom they allow into the country. That number of people cannot be sustained by our education and health systems.’
The debate is set to dominate Westminster for the next week as the Office for National Statistics prepares to reveal the level of net migration in 2022. The figure is expected to top 700,000, with some analysts saying it could reach a million.
Despite previous Tory pledges to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands, the Prime Minister yesterday appeared to set a much less ambitious target of half a million.
In Japan for the G7 summit, Mr Sunak admitted immigration was ‘too high’ but declined to put a ‘precise number’ on what he thought was an acceptable number of people settling legally in the UK each year.
He suggested he would only try to keep it below the level he ‘inherited’ – which is roughly 500,000.
Mr Sunak insisted the public’s top priority on immigration was dealing with the Channel crisis. He is set to raise the issue again today with French leader Emmanuel Macron.
Cabinet tensions over the level of legal immigration are rising ahead of next week’s figures.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman – who wants to revive the net migration target of below 100,000 – said this week there was ‘no good reason’ why British workers could not be trained to do the jobs currently being filled by migrants.
Former minister Mr Rees-Mogg warned: ‘The Conservatives should deliver on their manifesto commitments. People who voted for us to leave the European Union expected migration of all kinds to be brought under control and the Government should therefore set a limit.’
Tory backbencher Adam Holloway said the Prime Minister’s approach to net migration was ‘completely insane’.
‘Who would think that a Conservative Government was presiding over effectively uncontrolled immigration?’ he asked on GB News.
Mr Holloway said a group of MPs were demanding to see the Home Secretary because ‘it’s not just about the Tory party’s electoral prospects that are shattered by this’.
‘It’s actually about the shape and the feel of our country going forward. It’s about public services and every single MP, not just Conservative, should be looking at this.’
One former Tory minister said last night: ‘This is going to win or lose us the election.
‘We need to get a grip and work flat out on it.’