TOM Watson has said that Labour’s immigration policy was unclear as he shed light on his sometimes strained relationship with Jeremy Corbyn’s top team.
Labour’s deputy leader said the party wants to see a fair immigration policy implemented following Brexit but he also suggested that it was difficult to set out detailed plans before Theresa May reveals her negotiating hand.
Watson’s comments come as senior Labour MPs call on Corbyn to put pressure on the Prime Minister to pursue a two-tier immigration system between the UK and the European Union.
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During an interview on Sky News yesterday it was suggested that Labour’s immigration policy was unclear and Watson said: “Well, I think you have got a fair point on that and it centres around this debate around free movement of labour, which is one of the treaties we are signed up to currently in the EU.
“We want a fair immigration system. It’s unfair of you to ask what Labour’s notional position is when we don’t even know what Theresa May’s negotiating position is on free movement.”
Watson also set out the state of his relationship with Corbyn. He said: “There were teething problems with the way Jeremy’s team work and I don’t have a great relationship with some of his team members.
“But with Jeremy himself, we enjoy a very strong relationship.”
Watson also said he is “very clear” that Corbyn will lead Labour into the 2020 General Election, while ruling out talk of electoral alliances as “counsel of despair”.
The Labour MPs Emma Reynolds and Stephen Kinnock have urged Corbyn to press May to introduce a two-tier immigration system, split between high-skilled and low-skilled workers coming from the EU.
Senior Labour MP Hilary Benn said the opposition should accept that there would be controls on free movement. The Brexit select committee chairman said: “I have made my own personal view clear that I think there clearly are going to be controls on free movement and that is something that I think Labour should support.”