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Balls attacks Brown for ignoring immigration

Ed Balls, the Labour leadership contender, criticised his political mentor yesterday when he accused Gordon Brown of blundering by ignoring the immigration issue before the general election.

The shadow Education Secretary, who is regarded as the former Prime Minister's closest ally, blamed Mr Brown for failing to appreciate public concerns on the subject.

Mr Balls told BBC1's Politics Show: "On immigration, I said to him that you should be talking about immigration the last year and a half and that we were making a mistake by brushing it under the carpet."

He added that Mr Brown's notorious election encounter with Gillian Duffy – the Rochdale pensioner he privately dismissed as a "bigoted woman" – proved the former Labour leader was out of touch with its natural supporters.

"I think Gordon's answer to Mrs Duffy showed he'd not been having the conversation, because what she said was the kind of things being said by Labour supporters, and in some cases former Labour supporters over the last year and a half," Mr Balls added.

He suggested yesterday that new controls should be imposed on the movement of migrants within the European Union – a move that could require the renegotiation of EU treaties.