THERE is absolutely no evidence to back up Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that immigration drives down wages, a leading economist has told MSPs.

Speaking at Holyrood’s Economy, Jobs and Fair Work committee, Glasgow University principal Anton Muscatelli said it was wrong to suggest there was an impact.

Corbyn had been likened to Nigel Farage after his speech to Scottish Labour’s conference in Dundee.

The party chief told delegates that the UK could not “be held back inside or outside the EU from taking the steps we need to develop and invest in cutting edge industries and local business to stop the tide of privatisation and outsourcing, or from preventing employers being able to import cheap agency labour to undercut existing pay and conditions in the name of free market orthodoxy.”

Professor Muscatelli told MSPs this simply wasn’t backed up by the research: “There’s absolutely no evidence and to suggest that there is an impact frankly flies in the face of the evidence."

He added remaining part of the single market, with free movement of people, was “critical to the whole of the UK economy actually, but particularly I think to certain sectors in Scotland”.

He added: “The difficulty is, with the exception of those sectors which can genuinely sell directly into a world market and can cope with tariffs… we’re talking about very few… most of the sectors in the UK are really part of a value chain. Manufacturing and engineering are part of a European value chain.

“So not being part of the single market is a disaster because most of those value chains will realign.

“Unless we are members of the single market, I do think most of the analysis I’ve seen suggests that would be pretty disastrous in terms of GDP loss.”

He added: “Being part of the single market is absolutely critical to the economic future of Scotland.”

Former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Sir Harry Burns said immigration was necessary: “Some time in the next decade there will be more deaths in Scotland than births. Therefore, the demographics will become much more difficult.

“So far, immigration – particularly from the EU – has been an important source of young talent.”

Corbyn was attacked by his own party for the remarks on immigration. Edinburgh MP Ian Murray said “the only person smiling after that passage in Jeremy’s speech would have been Nigel Farage”.