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Immigration inquiry MPs to tour UK and gather views at public meetings

An influential Commons committee is to tour the country as part of a new inquiry on immigration.

MPs will hold public meetings in every region of the UK to hear views on the subject and how it should be approached in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, unveiled the inquiry on Thursday.

She said: "Immigration is one of the most important issues facing our country and will be central to the Brexit deal.

"Britain voted for change, especially on free movement, but there has been very little debate about what kind of reforms or immigration control that should now mean or how we get the best deal for the country.

"Successive governments have failed on immigration and public concern has grown.

"Yet too often the polarised nature of the debate makes it hard to get consensus over what should be done instead. If there is no consensus behind the most important parts of the Brexit deal in the end it will unravel."

The "different kind of inquiry" will look "outward at the country, not inward at the Government", Ms Cooper pledged.

"Instead of just taking evidence in Westminster, we will be travelling round every region and nation, holding public meetings, bringing local people together for debates and discussions, citizens' juries, and online consultations," she said.

"We want to hear people's views both about immigration and about how they believe that common ground can be found to stop this issue dividing the country."

Immigration was seen as one of the central issues in the lead-up to the EU referendum in June.

Figures released earlier this month showed the number of people coming to the UK has reached a record level, as the inflow of EU citizens hit a historic high.

Immigration from around the world was running at around 650,000 in the year to the end of June - the highest number recorded. The number coming to the country included a record 284,000 EU citizens.

Net migration - the overall difference between the numbers arriving and leaving the country - was also at a close to peak level of 335,000, well above the Government's target of less than 100,000.

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