Keir Starmer REFUSES to say whether immigration should come down as Labour leadership hopefuls dodge over free movement
- Government signed off a new points-based immigration system for next year
- Sir Keir Starmer refused to say whether he thought levels of arrivals should fall
- Labour leadership rival Rebecca Long-Bailey also dodged over her policy
Labour leadership hopeful Keir Starmer today refused to say whether immigration should come down.
Sir Keir insisted he does not believe in ‘a numbers game’ as he was repeatedly challenged on his views.
His rival for the party’s top job Rebecca Long-Bailey also dodged saying what shape the post-Brexit migration system should take – while deputy leadership contender Angela Rayner merely said the rules should be ‘fair’.
Boris Johnson and his new Cabinet signed off on a new Ausralian-style points-based immigration system last week, which will prohibit any EU migrant earning under £23,000 per year from entering the country in a move to end reliance on unskilled labour.
Home Office analysis estimates the system is expected to slash the number of low skilled workers arriving from the EU by 90,000 a year.
Sir Keir Starmer insisted he does not believe in ‘a numbers game’ after he was repeatedly challenged on Sky New for his views on immigration
In most cases, skilled migrants will have to have a job offer paying more than £25,600 – a lower threshold than currently applies to migrants from outside the EU.
Migrants will also earn ‘points’ for how well they speak English. In some cases migrants taking jobs paying as little as £23,000 could be granted visas, depending on their skills.
All migrants will need to have a secure job offer in place, with more points awarded for areas there are shortages. Those with higher levels of education, or those who were educated in the UK, will also earn more points.
Interviewed on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme, Sir Keir was read his own remarks from 2016 when he suggested immigration should be reduced.
He replied: ‘As we leave the EU, obviously things are now going to change. I want people in this country to be able to work in Europe, I want people in Europe to come and work in this country… ‘
Pressed on whether inflows should be reduced, he said: ‘Well, I don’t believe in numbers and I don’t believe in salary gaps.
‘We’ve been playing the numbers game for the best part of ten years and it doesn’t work.
‘I want people to be able to work in Europe, people in Europe to be able to work here.
‘I want families to be able to live together and I absolutely want people who want to study in Europe to be able to do so and people in Europe to come and study here. These are valuable things that we should make a positive case for.’
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Ms Long-Bailey said she was ‘in favour of freedom of movement’.
But she added: ‘Whatever we believe on freedom of movement we are not in government.’
Ms Rayner was grilled on the same programme over whether she would fight for the party’s official policy of ‘extending’ free movement.
‘I will be fighting to make sure we have a fair system,’ she said.
Rebecca Long-Bailey also dodged saying what shape the post-Brexit migration system should take – while deputy leadership contender Angela Rayner merely said the rules should be ‘fair’