Welsh first minister suggests free movement for those who have already secured a job
Carwyn Jones, Labour’s first minister in Wales, has attacked Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott’s approaches to immigration, arguing that they are too London centric and risk driving traditional Labour voters into the hands of UKIP.
His comments in the Guardian follow Corbyn and Abbott’s attempts to defend the free movement of people, despite the EU referendum result in June.
Asked for his views on their stance, Jones said:
“The danger is that’s a very London-centric position. That is not the way people see it outside London. London is very different: it is a cosmopolitan city and has high levels of immigration. It has that history. It is not the way many other parts of the UK are.”
Following the election of Paul Nuttall as UKIP Leader, who has pledged to targeted Labour held seats, especially across the north, Jones went on to warn of Labour voters being driven to the UKIP cause. He explained:
“People see it very differently in Labour-supporting areas of the north of England, for example. We have to be very careful that we don’t drive our supporters into the arms of UKIP. When I was on the doorstep in June, a lot of people said: ‘We’re voting out, Mr Jones, but, don’t worry, we’re still Labour.’ What I don’t want is for those people to jump to voting UKIP.”
Asked by the Guardian if he would like to see Labour’s approach to immigration change, the leader of Welsh Labour said:
“It does not reflect the UK. It reflects one unusual, large city in the UK. We have to make sure there are more authentic voices around the UK within the party who people feel are addressing them in their own language and using their own accents.”
While the Welsh government is seeking to ensure the UK has ‘full and fair access’ to the Single Market following any Brexit settlement, Jones went on to explain:
“There has to be compromise. If you accept access to the single market is the most important thing, you have to think about a different way of dealing with migration. There is no doubt in my mind that for many people the current system of freedom of movement is a problem. You can’t ignore it and say we won’t worry.
“Do we look at alternatives, for example, like freedom of movement if you’ve got a job? I think a lot of people would find that reasonable. People who voted Brexit on the issue of migration would say that sounds fair enough to us. People who don’t like immigrants are never going to be satisfied but there are ways of keeping elements of free movement that might be enough to enable us to have access to the single market.”
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.