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Corbyn: Don't blame migrants for UK's problems

Published 12/06/2016

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to Aberdeen, as he campaigns for a remain vote in the EU referendum
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to Aberdeen, as he campaigns for a remain vote in the EU referendum

Jeremy Corbyn has urged voters not to blame migrants for their struggles as he sought to persuade Labour supporters to back staying in the European Union.

The Labour leader has faced criticism from senior party figures for failing to reach out to its traditional base amid fears that concerns about immigration are driving them to back Leave.

Polls suggest large swathes of voters are still to make up their minds despite some signs of a hardening of attitudes in favour of backing Brexit in the June 23 referendum.

The pro-EU campaign is expected to increasingly focus on wooing Labour voters as the fight over Britain's future relations with Brussels enters its final full week.

Mr Corbyn, writing in the Sunday Mirror, appealed to them not to allow Ukip and other anti-EU campaigners to " whip up division and turn this into a referendum on immigration".

"Our hospitals, schools and housing aren't in crisis because of migration," he said.

"It's not Polish plumbers or Spanish nurses who created record waiting times at A&E departments, or made cancer treatment waiting times longer.

"It was cuts forced through by David Cameron, Boris Johnson and the Tory party that did that. Instead of training enough doctors and nurses, we now rely on over 50,000 medical staff from the EU to keep our NHS going.

"If you or your family are struggling to get an affordable home, it's not migrants who are to blame.

"It's politicians who have failed to build enough homes. Under David Cameron's government new house builds have fallen to their lowest level since the 1920s.

"If your son or daughter is in an oversized class at school, ask Michael Gove, former education secretary, why his government is making the deepest cuts to the education budget since the 1970s."

The Labour leader said there was " no doubt that migration can cause communities to change rapidly - and put an added strain on local services" but that the solution was extra investment in services, not closing the door to foreign workers.

"It's this Government that has undermined services and living standards. That's why I believe it's in our best interests to vote to Remain and reform, protecting rights and jobs," he concluded.

A ComRes poll for the newspaper found nearly two thirds of voters ( 64%) believe politicians have done a bad job of putting their side forward to voters on the referendum, while just 20% say they have done a good job.

Some 69% complained of a lack of unbiased facts available.

Mr Corbyn sought to play down claims he was out-of-touch with the concerns of ordinary voters, insisting his part of north London was one of those most affected by immigration.

"Living in one of the most diverse areas of the country I know both the benefits and the difficulties immigration can cause," he wrote.

Mr Corbyn, who was campaigning in Aberdeen, said : " I hope people will vote for what they want on June 23, and decide whether they wish to be part of the European Union or not on the basis of solidarity with people across the continent."

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