Andy Burnham says he is not proud of Labour's 'controls on immigration' mugs

The shadow home secretary said he was not behind the decision to release the mugs

Jon Stone
Tuesday 13 October 2015 15:00
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The mugs caused controversy when they were launched
The mugs caused controversy when they were launched

Labour’s shadow home secretary has distanced himself from pieces of party merchandise with the words “controls of immigration” written on them.

Andy Burnham said he was not proud of the tea mugs, which were available to buy from the party’s online shop before the 2015 general election.

“I am not responsible for all Labour party merchandise. I didn’t purchase one of those mugs myself and I am not particularly proud of them,” he told the House of Commons after he was asked about the merchandise.

“[But] there do need to be firm and fair rules to make sure our immigration system works in the public [interest].”

The mugs were part of a series of merchandise which bore the party's five broad policy pledges.

The hashtag #racistmug trended on Twitter, and the Green Party released an opposing mug with "Stand up for migrants" written on it.

The shadow home secretary was speaking during a parliamentary debate on the Government’s Immigration Bill.

Mr Burnham warned on Sunday that measures in the Government’s bill, notably plans to force landlords to check immigration status, could lead to discrimination against migrants in housing.

Andy Burnham addresses the House of Commons

Writing in the Independent on Sunday he said the new checks risked becoming the modern equivalent of infamous “no dogs, no blacks, no Irish” because they would discourage landlords from accepting people who appeared to be from abroad even if they had perfectly legal immigration statuses.

His comments followed a survey by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigration that found that 27 per cent of landlords would be reluctant to engage with prospective tenants who had “foreign sounding” names or accents under the checks.

Mr Burnham told his party’s conference in Brighton last month that Labour had neglected the issue of immigration in the past, however, and outlined some policies on the issue.

“For too long Labour has gone along with the idea that free movement – on the current rules – benefits everyone and benefits all areas equally. You know what? It’s just not true,” he told delegates.

Mr Burnham suggested that areas where immigration had led to pressure on public services should receive additional cash to compensate them, possible from the European Union.

The Home Secretary Theresa May has taken a more aggressive approach to migration, arguing in her speech to Conservative party conference that it is impossible to build a “cohesive society” when immigration is high.

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