Crunch time for Corbyn as he has to decide Labour immigration policy today amid claims he will back down over full freedom of movement to boost support in party’s heartlands
- The Labour leader has previously championed a ‘fair immigration process’
- But faces split as draft manifesto contained freedom of movement commitment
- Final details of party manifesto will be hammered out later today in London
Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to make a clear commitment on Labour’s immigration policy as the party’s manifesto is finalised later today.
The Labour leader previously championed to a ‘fair immigration process’ which could include looking at whether freedom of movement will continue if Britain leaves the EU.
But he is now set to back down to boost support in the party’s vulnerable heartlands despite the possibility of a backlash among grassroots activists who campaigned for the policies’ adoption.
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured arriving to the Clause V meeting) is under pressure to make a clear commitment on Labour’s immigration policy
The Labor leader previously vowed that the manifesto would ‘knock your socks off’ but he has since been left to deal with friction in the party over a number of key issues
The Labor leader vowed that the manifesto would ‘knock your socks off’ and is now meeting with his shadow cabinet, trade unions, affiliated organisations and the national policy forum to hammer out the final details in London.
Immigration has re-emerged as one of the major General Election battlegrounds and will be among the discussions at today’s ‘Clause V’ meeting.
Mr Corbyn faces a front bench split following claims that a draft version of Labour’s manifesto contains a commitment to freedom of movement, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was greeted by pro-immigration protesters as she arrived for the meeting on the manifesto at Savoy Place in London
One pro-immigration campaigner held a sign outside Labour’s manifesto meeting that said: ‘Working class unity means fighting racist divide and rule. Defend free movement. Movement for justice’
The newspaper quoted a shadow cabinet source as saying: ‘If we maintain a close relationship with the single market then we are going to have to maintain freedom of movement. That’s a given.’
There are also reports that policies of extending free movement and giving foreign nationals the right to vote in all UK elections are expected to be watered down or scrapped, according to The Independent.
A spokeswoman for the Labour party said: ‘We didn’t provide any guidance for them ahead of the manifesto and won’t be for others.’
Campaigners are now warning that not giving immigrants the right to vote would fuel ‘xenophobia, scaremongering and hate crime’ and that backing down on this issue too would be ‘pandering to the negative portrayal of immigrants’.
The Liberal Democrats also challenged Mr Corbyn to commit to preserving free movement with the meeting just hours away.
Lib Dem shadow home secretary Christine Jardine said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn must make a cast-iron commitment in Labour’s manifesto to preserve free movement.
‘Failure to do so would be a betrayal of future generations and of the millions of voters across the country who want their right to free movement defended.’
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has also arrived for the meeting where Labour’s front bench is said to be split over freedom of movement
Earlier this week, Mr Corbyn accused the Tories of fabricating figures about immigration.
The Conservatives had claimed net migration under Labour ‘could increase to 840,000 per year’.
Home Secretary Priti Patel added that ‘immigration would surge’ after the party carried out analysis of its opposition’s supposed proposals for open borders.
So far Labour has announced a plan to create a publicly-owned broadband entity to deliver free full-fibre internet to the entire nation as well as boosts to the minimum wage and the NHS.
Mr Corbyn has pledged to deliver ‘the most radical and exciting plan for real change the British public has even seen’.
But the full details of the manifesto are set to remain tightly-sealed until the formal unveiling later down the line.
Meanwhile, the number of candidates running in the election has been confirmed.
There are 275 Brexit Party candidates standing despite Nigel Farage initially suggesting that his party would target every seat in Britain.
There was growing pressure on Mr Farage in the run-up to the close of nominations on Thursday to stand down Brexit Party candidates to avoid splitting the pro-Leave vote.
It was expected that there would be around 300 candidates running for Mr Farage’s party after he said that they would not contest the 317 seats which the Conservatives had won in the 2017 election.
The numbers were confirmed as Lord Falconer wrote to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and Director of Public Prosecutions calling for a probe into claims the Tories offered peerages to senior Brexit Party figures in a bid to get them to stand aside.
The senior peer said the ‘exceptionally serious allegations’ should be investigated as a matter of urgency, and must be looked at by police in order to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the election.
Scotland Yard said it has received two allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice in relation to the 2019 General Election which are currently being assessed.