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International development key to solving migrant crisis, insists Diane Abbott

Published 28/09/2015

Shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott outlined the circumstances which will be required for her party to back a bid to extend the UK's military role from Iraq and into Syria.
Shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott outlined the circumstances which will be required for her party to back a bid to extend the UK's military role from Iraq and into Syria.

Ukip's politics will have less success at solving the migration crisis than barbed wire, armed troops and letting people drown, the shadow international secretary has said.

Diane Abbott warned the Mediterranean Sea has become a "graveyard" for thousands of people trying to reach the safety of Europe, as she cautioned Labour against trying to "out Ukip Ukip".

She also insisted she would not support military action in Syria, and accused Prime Minister David Cameron of "paying lip service" to international aid.

Speaking at the party's conference in Brighton, Ms Abbott said: "Barbed wire, armed troops and letting people drown is not the solution to waves of economic migration.

"Still less is it the politics of Ukip. Ultimately the only way to check the flows of economic migration is international development, promoting growth and prosperity worldwide.

"And on the question of Ukip, let me say to conference that there are those who would imply that there is some electoral advantage to be gained by moving our policies on migration closer to those of Ukip.

"I will say only one thing - you cannot out Ukip Ukip and we shouldn't even try.

"Ultimately the only way to check the flows of economic migration and to offer people real hope is international development, promoting growth and prosperity worldwide.

"It will also be at the heart of my work... the notion that we need women-centred development policies."

She also said: "We also have to recognise that war and conflict are a primary impediment to development. Nothing has held back development in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, more than ill-fated military intervention, and that is why I will be voting against bombing Syria."

Addressing Mr Cameron's record, Ms Abbott said: "Cameron has been paying lip service to these issues while covertly diverting the aid budget to non-development purposes.

"This is a Government which is as callous to the poor around the world as they are callous to the poor in Great Britain.

"International development for David Cameron has been window dressing and we are going to tear that curtain down."

International Development Minister Grant Shapps, in a statement, said: " This is desperate stuff from Diane at a time when Labour are calling for tax rises, more borrowing and weakening our defences through scrapping Trident, leaving Nato and abolishing our armed forces.

"After 13 years of Labour dithering it was a Conservative PM - David Cameron - who made a legally-binding commitment to aid which is helping some of the poorest countries develop, tackling the root causes of migration."

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