Sir Keir Starmer will put immigration in the spotlight as Labour prepares to fight the key Red Wall seat of Wakefield this week.
After remaining silent about the government’s Rwanda deportation flight, Starmer will now rule out bringing back free movement with Europe if he is elected prime minister.
As part of his leadership campaign in 2020 Starmer promised Labour members he would “defend free movement as we leave the EU”.
However, he now wants to scrap that pledge as he tries to win back voters ‘borrowed’ to the Conservatives in the 2019 general election.
A Labour source told The Times: “Keir recognises that it’s time to put a line in the sand and stop any speculation about what our position on immigration might be.”
Starmer’s stance could run into opposition from some Labour MPs.
Yesterday Stella Creasy, the MP for Walthamstow and chairwoman of the Labour Movement for Europe, attacked her party’s “silence” on Brexit.
“For fear of saying the wrong thing, many in Labour claim it is better to say nothing at all about Brexit,” she wrote in The Observer. “But such reticence does not honour those who voted Leave — or Remain.”
She added: “We can’t solve the cost-of-living crisis without revisiting what leaving the single market and customs union has done to grocery shopping.”
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