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SHADOW home secretary Diane Abbott called on the government today to drop its “counterproductive” post-Brexit immigration target for the sake of business and the economy.
This comes after a report by the Confederation of British Industry stated that a target-based immigration strategy should be replaced by a system that ensures the rights of European Union nationals to make a “positive contribution” to the British economy.
Ms Abbott said that British business is sending a “clear message” that Prime Minister Theresa May’s “anti-migrant campaign” is unworkable.
She said: “The government has set an unreachable target and used it as the basis for a permanent anti-migrant campaign.
“This is deeply unjust and, as the CBI report shows, it doesn’t meet our own economic needs.”
Ms Abbott called on the government to highlight “the positive contribution migrants make and the many economic sectors that would be in crisis without them.
“The next Labour government will prioritise growth and prosperity, not arbitrary targets,” she promised.
“We need fair rules and reasonable management of migration. That’s how to ensure all our citizens and the migrants who come here are treated fairly.”
The CBI report said that the contribution of EU workers was recognised as “profoundly important” to the running of both public and private-sector services. The European workforce will be needed in the future following the post-Brexit termination of freedom of movement of labour, it added.
The report suggested registering all immigrants to Britain on arrival and to restrict visits to three months “unless they can prove that they are working, studying or are self-sufficient.”
It added that an idea to move EU nationals into an existing non-EU immigration system would be “entirely unworkable,” as well as “highly complex, time-consuming and expensive, particularly for small businesses.”
The Home Office said that it remained committed to bringing down immigration to Britain by “tens of thousands.”
Adding that there was no consent for further immigration, a Home Office spokesperson said that “after we leave the EU, we will end free movement and put in place a system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK.”
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