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Great Britain

Labour in migration meltdown as Diane Abbott vows to extend freedom of movement

LABOUR’S bitter civil war on immigration exploded into the open yesterday as Diane Abbott insisted the party would extend its open door pledge.

Long-running tensions finally erupted as leader Jeremy Corbyn’s key lieutenants face a 48-hour deadline to agree their General Election offer.

Unite boss Len McCluskey called a vote by left-wing activists at Labour’s conference in September to widen free movement rules as “wrong”.

Hours later, Shadow Home Secretary Ms Abbott, who controls the immigration policy brief, publicly hit back on Twitter.

She insisted Labour would not only rip up its promise at the 2017 election to end free access for all EU citizens, it will go further to extend the offer worldwide.

Home Secretary Priti Patel warned it could allow jihadi terrorists stripped of citizenship back into Britain to rejoin their families.

Ms Abbott tweeted: “The Labour Party is committed to maintaining & extending Freedom of Movement rights.

“The Tories break up families by barring spouses of British citizens, via an income requirement. Labour will scrap it, and extend Freedom of Movement rights to all those legally entitled to be here.”

'UTTER MADNESS'

The dust-up on such a sensitive election issue left senior Labour officials in despair, with one telling The Sun the spat was “utter madness”.

It came ahead of a showdown meeting of all Labour bigwigs tomorrow to decide what policies will go in its election manifesto.

As the subject of immigration dominated the day’s General Election campaign debate, Tory leader Boris Johnson issued a strong hint that while more skilled migrants might come in under his new post-Brexit plan, the number of unskilled new arrivals would be slashed.

Labour’s war over what to do on the issue has split the shadow cabinet down the middle between those in favour and those against allowing worldwide free movement to Britain.

Adding to the confusion, a third position is held by Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer. He who wants freedom of movement for EU citizens to be part of Brexit negotiations.

Mr Corbyn last night intervened on the side of longstanding ally and close friend Ms Abbott.

He said the party would loosen the current controls to make it easier for families to bring relatives to live in the UK and for more foreign workers to come in.

Mr Corbyn declared Labour’s immigration policy was “based on fairness and justice, and on the economic needs of our society, and they are considerable”. But despite being repeatedly pushed, Mr Corbyn refused to say whether he thinks immigration should be higher or lower.

Shadow Employment Rights Secretary Laura Pidcock also refused five times to say what the party’s intention was on whether to increase or reduce arrivals in a painful interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

Ms Patel, who hit the campaign trail by visiting Chessington School in Surrey yesterday, demanded Labour chiefs come clean on immigration in a letter to Ms Abbott.

In it, the Home Secretary warns the party activists’ decision to back total free movement would be a national security risk — as it could allow jihadi terrorists stripped of their citizenship back into Britain via their unconditional right to family reunion.

Saying Labour has “serious questions to answer”, Ms Patel adds: “They are proposing a policy now of extending free movement to the rest of the world. That would be the equivalent of over 840,000 in the United Kingdom every single year — the combined populations of the cities of Manchester and Newcastle.”

£4bn more to EU

BRITS could have to pay the EU an extra £4billion a year due to Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit dithering.

Tories warned Brussels wants to tear up Britain’s rebate, negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1985.

And Britain would have to accept it because Labour helped ram through the controversial Brexit- delaying Benn Act.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said: “By forcing through a law that demands we stay in the EU no matter what, Corbyn has increased our weekly cheque by £85 million — with nothing to show except more delay.”

Labour said the claim was “more Tory nonsense scaremongering”.

Quizzed on what the Tories’ new immigration offer was, the PM said their plans “may mean in some sectors immigration comes down”.

Boris said he is in favour of “people of talent” moving to the UK before telling broadcasters: “Let’s be frank, over the last 20, 30 years — 20 years in particular — we’ve seen a lot of people coming without the job to go to.

“They have been putting pressure on public services and they haven’t necessarily had the skills the economy demands. We want to have a controlled system.”

Ed's Jez rage

HOLLYWOOD actor Eddie Marsan has blasted Jeremy Corbyn for allowing anti-Semitism to flourish under his leadership.

The Sherlock Holmes star, 51, who has voted Labour in every election since 1987, is urging people to follow him and switch to the Lib Dems.

He added: “The one thing I have never seen in all my years is a racist who admits to being a racist.”

Meanwhile the Lib Dems have promising £100billion in climate change measures to make the UK a world leader in wind and wave power.

Labour's day of blunders as Jeremy Corbyn's election campaign goes off track

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