Priti Patel writes to Diane Abbott expressing "concerns" over Labour's immigration plans

14 November 2019, 12:31

Priti Patel hit out at Diane Abbott
Priti Patel hit out at Diane Abbott. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Priti Patel has written to Diane Abbott to express her "concerns over the impact of Labour's immigration plans on public services and national security."

The Home Secretary has used a letter to Labour to lash out at the party's stance on immigration suggesting national security would be jeopardised by an “unconditional” right to family reunion, which could allow those who have lost their citizenship to return to the UK.

The Tories said analysis of new research into Labour's proposals for open borders suggests net migration "could increase to 840,000 per year if Mr Corbyn is elected as Prime Minister".

In the letter she urged Labour to "come clean" over their "plans for uncontrolled and unlimited immigration."

According to the party, the research shows Labour's plans maintain free movement for EEA member would result in average net immigration to the UK of 260,000 over the next 10 years or the "equivalent to a city the size of Brighton moving to the UK every year."

The party said if free movement was extended to the rest of the world it would be like " combined populations of Manchester and Newcastle moving to the UK every single year," with 840,000 extra people a year over the next 10 years.

What the letter said:

Dear Diane,

I was somewhat surprised to read in the newspapers this morning that you were distancing yourself from the motion passed overwhelmingly at Labour conference which committed your party to “maintain and extend” freedom of movement. The advocates of this policy in your Party have been quite clear that they want to give free movement rights to countries: 'beyond the EU'. Labour Party rules are clear that conference motions are officially part of the “Party programme."

This is entirely consistent with views expressed by yourself, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell over the years. Indeed the Shadow Chancellor said in 2013: "If we’re a civilised society we should have open borders. We should be allowed to travel right the way across the globe wherever we want. It should be a basic human right".

The motion passed at Labour conference commits the Labour Party to include in its manifesto, pledges to:

“Reject any immigration system based on incomes, migrants’ utility to business, and number caps/targets.”

“Unconditional right to family reunion.”

“Extend equal rights to vote to all UK residents.”

However in the past week, senior Labour Party figures have made a variety of contradictory statements.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed he wanted to "ensure all EU nationals can come to the UK."

Labour Campaign Coordinator Andrew Gwynne claimed that Labour would negotiate "bilateral agreements" for free movement with individual countries.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said that Labour was "looking for reforms" to freedom of movement.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said that under a Labour coalition there would be "a kind of managed migration."

As Home Secretary, I have grave concerns over the policy agreed at your conference which would place enormous strain on our public services and represent a considerable departure from our democratic norms, or indeed to norms of any western-style democracy. Analysis shows that it could lead to a trebling of net migration into the UK to 840,000 people per year - which would put huge pressure on our NHS.

Our national security would be imperilled by an “unconditional” right to family reunion which would give those subject to deportation orders, and those who have been deprived of their British citizenship after joining terrorist groups overseas the legal right to settle in the UK.

The British public will be heading to the polls in just four weeks’ time. The democratic process would be greatly enhanced if you and your colleagues were to come clean over your plans for uncontrolled and unlimited immigration.

I look forward to your response.

Priti Patel

Earlier Diane Abbott branded the Tory figures "fake news" and suggested they were "make believe."

Ms Abbott said: “This is more fake news from the Conservative Party's make-believe research department.

“Unlike the Tories we won't scapegoat migrants or deport our own Windrush generation citizens. The damage done to our society has been through damaging Conservative cuts to our public services, not by EU nationals coming to work in them.”