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Labour will manage migration without making cynical promises, says McDonnell

Published 27/10/2016

Mr McDonnell is insisting the Tories are only interested in cutting
Mr McDonnell is insisting the Tories are only interested in cutting "sweetheart" deals for the banks and big business

Labour will not make "cynical" promises on reducing migrant numbers like the Tories have, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has insisted.

Mr McDonnell used a keynote address on Brexit to warn that migrants were not to blame for low pay and job insecurity which was the fault of an outdated economic model that needed to be replaced.

"Labour are not about to make cynical promises like the Conservatives on reducing migrant numbers, knowing full well they can't be met on the scale, or time scale, with the methods they propose," he said.

"It is not migrants to blame for low pay and insecurity at work, or the high cost of housing, it is the failure of our whole economic model, which is not supplying the investment in work, or in housing, that people need. We have to change the model."

Addressing concerns raised in the EU referendum about migration levels, the shadow chancellor said: "Labour's policy has always been about managed migration, about what the economy needs and what society needs overall.

"What we experienced during the referendum ... people voted on a whole range of issues, one of which was their concern about the low standard of living. They actually looked at migration being exploited by employers and others to undermine that standard of living.

"What we will negotiate is a future with Europe that protects people's standards of living, that d oesn't allow migration to be used and exploited in that way. And in that way I believe we can build a coherent, cohesive Britain in the future."

His stance appears to put Mr McDonnell at odds with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer who has said Labour should reduce migrant numbers.

Sir Keir said earlier this month: "There has been a huge amount of immigration over the last 10 years, and people are understandably concerned about it.

"I think it should be reduced and it should be reduced by making sure we have got the skills in this country that are needed for the jobs that are needed to be done."

Mr McDonnell also used his address to warn that t he Tories wanted to create a "Bankers' Brexit" that nobody voted for as they pursued a "scorched earth" withdrawal from the EU.

The shadow chancellor insisted the Tories were only interested in cutting "sweetheart" deals for the banks and big business, while ignoring the needs of manufacturers and small companies.

He pointed to lack of information about what levels of support the Government was to give to Nissan after it said it would build new models in the UK as proof ministers had no coherent plan.

"It's utterly chaotic at the moment," he said. "We have got a situation where we get leaks and rumours. Are they now going to decide, literally , factory by factory, the support they are going to give?"

Mr McDonnell insisted Labour would carve out a "People's Brexit".

He said: "Whether by design or by default, this shambolic Brexit will end up where the Tories always end - looking after the few, not the many.

"Already, Tory Cabinet ministers are looking to cook up special deals for their friends in the City of London. They want a 'Bankers' Brexit', in the interests of an elite few, not the majority.

"They'll cut a deal for finance, but ignore our small businesses and manufacturers.

"Let me be clear, those who have voted Conservative are not the same as the Tory establishment. Like me, you will have friends who have voted Conservative.

"They don't want a Bankers' Brexit any more than I do. The simple truth is that the Tory establishment cannot be trusted to make a success of Brexit. They want to take control for themselves, not the many."

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