On July 25th the final hustings of the 2015 labour leadership election were held in Warrington. During the course of the hustings the candidates were asked ‘where do each of the candidates stand on Britain’s place in the EU and can we solve the immigration issue while remaining in the EU?’
The Candidates went onto give the following responses.
Andy Burnham said that Labour had to address people’s concerns about immigration. He said that he didn’t want to be on the doorstep anymore in Leigh (his constituency) and feel that you have to ‘avoid people’s eye when they bring up the subject.’ He also said that part of Labour being in a position to go back into government would be it being in a position to answer people’s concerns about immigration. He said that ‘part of Labour’s ability to get back into government will be to answer those concerns.’ He said that he thought freedom of movement was a good thing, but that it was not the same as a ‘freedom to claim and that should be a clear principle that we start with.’ He said migrants should only be able to claim once they had contributed. He said that migration shouldn’t lead to people’s wages being undercut. He said that the communities that were most affected by European migration should get more help and more funding for the services that were particularly affected like primary school places and GP’s.
Liz Kendal said that EU membership was vital for dealing with the issue of migration. She said it was important to get a ‘fair deal on immigration from Europe’ and that people who come here ‘should pay in before they take out.’ She went onto say that ‘we shouldn’t let David Cameron determine our future in Europe on whether Polish people get tax credits or not.’
Jeremy Corbyn said it was important to ‘protect freedom of travel and work across Europe.’ He said that where there are issues of supply of houses and school places the blame should fall solely onto the government ‘that had failed to provide them’ rather than onto migrants.
Yvette Cooper said that there was ‘a challenge from migration and we have to face up to that.’ She said that the undercutting of wages had to be stopped. She said that it was ‘deeply unfair for those that come’ and also for ‘those local workers that end up being undercut’. She said that ‘at its worst’ the exploitation of migrants was akin to modern slavery and it should be made a crime.