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Jeremy Corbyn: EU means no upper limit on migration

20 June

Jeremy Corbyn says there is "no upper limit" to migration as long as Britain remains a member of the European Union.

The Labour leader was speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, after a question about whether there should be a cap on the total number of migrants coming to the country.

"I don't think you can have one while you have the free movement of labour and the free movement of labour means that you have to balance the economy," he answered.

He also criticised the EU's handling of the Greek financial crisis, saying it had helped exacerbate migration. "If you deliberately lower living standards and increase poverty in south-eastern Europe, then you're bound to have a flow of people looking for somewhere to go," he said.

With three days left before Britain goes to the polls to decide its future in Europe, Corbyn's remarks have proved a boon to the Vote Leave camp, who quickly capitalised on them.

Leave campaigner Michael Gove, who was also appearing on the programme, stressed he was not anti-immigration, but argued that public support for migration could only be secured "if people feel that they can control the numbers overall coming here".

Corbyn's comments also put him at odds with many in his own party, who have backed imposing more controls on free movement.

His words "infuriated moderate Labour MPs", says the Daily Telegraph, who fear his input on the tinderbox topic of immigration play into one of Vote Leave's most effective talking points.

"Corbyn could lose us the referendum single-handedly because he so out of touch with traditional Labour voters," one Labour MP told the paper.

The Brexit faction is widely perceived to have the upper hand on the question of immigration among the electorate, while the Stronger In campaign is relying on the economic arguments for remaining part of the EU.

Chancellor George Osborne insisted that leaving the EU would not address the electorate's concerns about immigration.

"I've seen absolutely no evidence that migration levels would fall," he said. "Most of the solutions, or so-called solutions, put forward by the other side in this debate could actually see migration levels increase."

Jeremy Corbyn urged to be 'bolder' on immigration

20 June

The boss of one of Britain's biggest unions has urged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to be "bolder and braver" on the issue of immigration.

GMB chief Tim Roache has raised concerns that Corbyn has been "mealy mouthed" on the issue, which is key for many voters ahead of the 23 June European Union referendum.

"We have to confront the real issues in the minds of working people and whether we like it or not, that is immigration and the free movement of labour," he told The Guardian.

"I think Labour needs to be a bit more bold, it needs to be a bit more brave, in taking on the issues in working people's minds rather than keeping silent about them. And I think that's what Labour's done for too long."

Roache wants Corbyn to highlight the positive aspects of immigration, pointing out how most people come to the UK to work, not to claim benefits.

The Labour leader is due to give a speech in London today arguing that the EU helps underpin workers' rights such as paid holiday and maternity leave.

"Several Leave supporters have stated clearly they want to leave Europe to water down workers' rights, to rip up the protections that protect work-life balance, that prevent discrimination and prevent exploitation and injustice," he is expected to say.

However, focus groups carried out in London, Brighton and Ipswich over the past few weeks found that Labour voters were "uniformly uncertain" about where the party stands on the UK's membership of the EU.

There has been particular concern in the Remain camp that Labour voters will be less likely to turn out on 23 June, potentially giving the Leave campaign the upper hand.

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