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Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will not put an arbitrary target on immigration, as he defended the “value of migration to society” in the face of the Tory pledge to cut numbers.

As the Conservatives and Labour clashed over immigration, Corbyn strongly rejected the idea of a limit on the number of people entering the country, saying: “Putting arbitrary figures on it as successive governments have done simply doesn’t work.”

He said he wanted to make it easier for migrants to bring their family members to the UK and for British workers to be able to work across Europe.

Corbyn also accused the Conservatives of “making up” numbers and policy after Priti Patel, the home secretary, claimed a Labour government would lead to open borders and an extra 840,000 new entrants a year.

The Labour leader explained his immigration policy after weeks of speculation about whether the party would adopt an aim to “maintain and expand freedom of movement rights”, which was passed by members at autumn conference. Corbyn said the motion would not “necessarily” make its way into the manifesto.

He said freedom of movement would continue if the UK votes in a second referendum to stay in the EU. However, if Labour were to negotiate a Brexit deal with the EU, it would involve a “special arrangement” on immigration and free movement, and he would want to expand rights for migrants to bring family members to the UK. Read more

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