Yvette Cooper denies shift to the right over tougher immigration stance

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Ed Miliband's tougher stance on immigration does not mean Labour is shifting to the right and trying to outbid the Conservatives, Yvette Cooper will insist today.

The Shadow Home Secretary will continue Labour's repositioning on the sensitive issue by saying the party should have been "ready to talk about problems" but now knows "that needs to change". She will acknowledge that the impact of migration must be properly managed so that it is "fair for all".

In a speech, Ms Cooper will insist: "We won't enter an arms race of rhetoric on immigration – and we hope the Prime Minister won't either."

She will argue there must be an effort to distinguish between "immigration that works and immigration that doesn't".

Her address comes after Mr Miliband admitted in a party political broadcast last night that the previous Labour Government got it "wrong" on immigration. Ms Cooper will promise that a future Labour Government would reduce migration by low-skilled workers through more prosecutions and higher fines for companies paying less than the national minimum wage; tackling "gangmasters" employing illegal migrants in social care, hospitality and construction and a ban on housing workers in overcrowded accommodation.

She will claim Tory promises to reduce net migration below 100,000 a year by the 2015 election is "not what it seems". She will argue that a reduction in net migration of 72,000 is made up of a 27,000 increase in emigration alongside a 20,000 drop in the number of Britons returning to the UK while student immigration has dropped by 38,000.

"Few think the answer to Britain's immigration challenges is to persuade more Brits to go away. Net migration measures the difference between certain categories of immigration and emigration and the way they have set the target means they are at risk of focusing on the wrong things," she will say.

Miss Cooper will also call for curbs on student visitor visas, which have risen by 30,000 since the last election.