Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says the Labour Party will take a much harder line on UK immigration than previous Labour governments.
29 November 2012
Shadow chancellor promises tough Labour stance on UK immigration
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has said Labour will go into the next general election in 2015 with a much tougher stance on UK immigration than previous Labour governments.
The current, Conservative-led, coalition Government had promised to tackle high rates of UK immigration before the next election but despite making significant changes to UK visa and immigration policy, rates remain at similarly high levels and the Government is now expected to miss its target.
While the Government has come under criticism for its changes to immigration policies - particularly those affecting international students - it is the previous Labour government which has shouldered the blame for the current high rates of European migration.
The Tony Blair government in 2004 relaxed checks allowing EU citizens to enter, live and work in the UK without the need for a visa. The then-government believed that approximately 12,000 people a year would enter from the UK but levels quickly surpassed that, reaching a peak of approximately 250,000 a year.
Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband conceded in June that the Labour Party had gotten it wrong on immigration policy during their time in government but promised a better approach if elected again.
And now the shadow chancellor has promised a much tougher line on immigration, although he refused to state specific numbers or targets.
"I think people need to know here that Labour recognises we didn't everything right and will have tough controls. That is important," said Mr Balls.
"They don't want us to get into a bidding war with the Conservative Party. David Cameron may want to play those games; we don't want to play that game. But that is something they need to hear from us.
"They want us to show on immigration that we'll have tougher controls, we'll make work pay.
"They want us to be listening to them and working for them. I think what's happening at the minute is there's a great deal of disillusionment now with the Government, with the Conservative Party, with the coalition.
"People want though to be reassured Labour will be tough, but also make things better for them. And that's our task in the next two years."
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.