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Labour to campaign for free movement at next election after conference vote

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Author-Greg Heffer, political reporter

A Labour government will campaign for, maintain and extend free movement rights for migrants, following a vote at the party’s conference in Brighton.

Despite party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MPs hurrying back to Westminster – after the prime minister’s suspension of parliament was ruled unlawful – the last day of Labour’s annual gathering still saw the party adopt new immigration policy.

A motion, passed by a show of hands of conference delegates, commits Labour to make manifesto pledges at the next general election to:

  • Oppose current Conservative immigration legislation and any curbing of rights
  • Campaign for free movement, equality and rights for migrants
  • Reject any immigration system based on incomes, migrants’ utility to business, and number caps or targets
  • Maintain and extend free movement rights
  • Scrap all “hostile environment” measures
  • Ensure unconditional right to family reunion

The motion, pushed by the Labour for Free Movement group, also commits the party to promising to close all immigration detention centres, to extend equal voting rights to “all UK residents” and “actively challenge anti-immigrant narratives”.

Ahead of the 2017 general election, Labour’s manifesto spoke of “new migration management systems” and stated: “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the EU.”

It added: “We will institute a new system which is based on our economic needs, balancing controls and existing entitlements.

“This may include employer sponsorship, work permits, visa regulations or a tailored mix of all these which works for the many, not the few.”

In response to Wednesday’s conference vote, a Labour source told Sky News: “Policy passed by conference becomes Labour policy.”

Following the vote, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott posted on Twitter: “We repeatedly highlight changing attitudes on immigration.

“Now Labour conference passes a motion further advancing our progressive policies.

“The Tories are still stuck in the past, with their ‘hostile environment’, Go Home vans, Windrush scandal & overriding rights of EU 3Million.”

Corbyn: ‘This unelected PM should now resign’

Home Secretary Priti Patel claimed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “does not believe in any limits on immigration”.

She added: “Corbyn’s Labour even wants to extend free movement to more countries and allow potentially dangerous illegal immigrants to roam our streets.

“The British people voted to take back control. It’s only Boris Johnson and the Conservatives who will deliver Brexit by 31 October and end free movement once and for all.”

EU free movement rules entitle EU citizens to live and work in other countries in the bloc while enjoying equal treatment with that country’s nationals.


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