Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has said that the UK must impose controls on immigration, going further on the issue than her leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to in his conference speech this afternoon.
Ms Rayner, who has recently emerged as a possible future Labour leader, told BBC News, the immigration system was was currently in “chaos” and controls would be necessary.
“We have to have controls on immigration, that’s quite clear,” she said. “You have to know who is coming in to your country and who is leaving your country.”
Asked whether this meant a reduction in net migration numbers, she said:
“I believe that you do need controls and we have always had controls on immigration. Immigration is a good thing for the UK but what is not good is when people don’t know about what numbers we have. I think you do have to talk about those things. People raise that on the doorstep all the time and it is important that we deal with those concerns.”
Ms Rayner was under no illusions about the scale of the challenge facing the Labour Party, saying Jeremy Corbyn, having been elected leader for a second time, had not yet proved himself.
She said: “We have got a long way to go. Jeremy needs to prove himself and earn that respect of the general public, which he hasn’t been able to sell that to the general public yet and he’s got some work to do on that.
“I hope he can lay out his plans and be given that opportunity to do that. Divided parties never win. The fact that we are squabbling amongst ourselves, you are not going to vote for us. I have been embarrassed by the way things have gone on over the summer and I want us to come back together.”
Jeremy Corbyn will address the Labour Party conference in Liverpool this afternoon. He will say the party should not “fan the flames” of the immigration question by offering “false promises.”
He will say the party should not “sow division” but “instead tackle the real issues of immigration and make the real changes that are needed".
This is expected to include a ring fenced fund for areas of high migration areas.
The EU referendum result showed that concerns about immigration are highest where actual immigration is lowest, and vice versa.
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