Labour looks set to back free movement of people and closing all immigration detention centres at the next election.
A radical motion to end a host of “hostile environment” policies which were exposed by the Windrush scandal was passed by delegates at the party’s conference in Brighton on Wednesday.
It ties Labour to including in its manifesto a pledge to “campaign for free movement” and to “maintain and extend free movement rights” for migrants.
The motion backs extending voting rights to “all UK residents” and ending the “no recourse to public funds” policy, which restricts access to public services to anyone whose immigration status is being investigated by the Home Office.
It could also see Labour opposing any immigration cap and any system based on income at the snap general election.
While the move may be popular with Remainers and the party’s grassroots, however, it could prove to be difficult on the doorstep in Leave constituencies.
At the 2017 election, held one year after the Brexit referendum, the Labour manifesto pledged to end the free movement of people and back Brexit.
The motion by the campaign group Labour for Free Movement, supported by Another Europe Is Possible, was carried with the backing of big trade unions, including GMB, Unite and Unison.
Alena Ivanova, from Labour for Free Movement, said: “Truly, a historic day for Labour. This is the day we bury detention, we bury the ‘control on immigration’ mugs and fight alongside our brothers and sisters for a truly democratic and representative Labour government, which would give me the franchise to vote Labour for the first time in my life.”
Ana Oppenheim, one of the Labour members behind the campaign, called the move a “transformational policy”.
“It sends a clear, unequivocal message of solidarity, that we are the party of all workers, regardless of where they were born,” she said.
“In 2017, it was a source of shame for many activists that our manifesto included ending free movement.
“Now we can only move forward not only committed to defending free movement, but to giving migrants the right to vote.
“If we win, the next election will be the last election in which people like me are shut out of the democratic process.”
Vijay Jackson, a delegate from Edinburgh who seconded the motion, said: “This set of policies is nothing less than what every migrant worker deserves and it is Labour’s class duty as socialist and internationalists to implement our demands in full.
“Too often we have been on the back foot, but we will no longer tolerate the narratives of the right which blame migrants for the problems of our society caused by the bosses, landlords and the system.
“All our migrant comrades should know – we have your back.”
It represents a huge turnaround in the party’s position but comes as Corbyn remains at loggerheads with many of his grassroots campaigners over Brexit.
Corbyn won a battle for Labour to remain neutral on leaving the EU at the next election. Should he become prime minister he will renegotiate a Brexit deal with Brussels which will be then put to the public in a second referendum.