KEIR Starmer has shown he is happy to merely echo the policies of the Conservatives after admitting there is little difference between them and Labour on immigration, it has been claimed. 

The Labour leader, keen to win back anti-immigration voters in England who swung to the Tories at the last election, told LBC there was little distance between the two on migration.

He backed the “points-based system” of immigration favoured by figures such as former home secretary Priti Patel and ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

The Scottish Greens said the confession proves a Starmer government would be "happy to be an echo of one of the cruellest and most incompetent Tory governments that we have ever had". 

In a radio interview on Monday morning, Starmer said: “Now we don’t have free movement any more, then you either have a pure numbers game or you have a points-based system that says ‘well, for certain types of jobs, certain types of roles here, you would get a number of points’. I think that makes sense.

“So, in that sense, not a great deal between the major parties on immigration.

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“We would have a slightly different approach and I would particularly want to welcome really good students. I feel that over the years we’ve put good students off coming here and many of them have ended up going to Australia and Canada and the US.

“I would want to see the best possible students coming to this country to study.”

The admission will be a boon to the SNP who have increasingly taken aim at Labour as the party appears to be a shoo-in at the next General Election.

And the Scottish Greens have condemned Starmer's comments, telling The National Labour have admitted to "having little difference with the racist and cruel policies of the Tories". 

Ross Greer, an MSP for the West of Scotland, said: "Whether it is freedom of movement, immigration or the deportation of vulnerable asylum seekers, it is clear that Keir Starmer's Labour party is happy to be an echo of one of the cruellest and most incompetent Tory governments that we have ever had.

"When we think about Windrush, the hostile environment and the xenophobia that underpinned Brexit, it is utterly staggering that any Labour leader would admit to having little difference with the racist and cruel policies of the Tories.

"When he stood for leader Starmer made a series of bold pledges, almost every one of which he has now explicitly ditched. Nobody has campaigned harder against the platform Keir Starmer won the Labour leadership on than Keir Starmer himself."

Stuart McDonald, the SNP's home affairs spokesman, said Scotland's "unique immigration needs" - caused by a declining birth rate - were being ignored by Westminster

He said: "The Tories’ immigration policies are disgusting, anyone with basic sense and decency would be seeking a huge gulf between their own views and those of the Tories, but yet here we have the Labour leader talking about what little difference there is between the parties.

"The reality is that on too many issues Labour and the Tories are two sides of the same coin. 

“With his admission Keir Starmer isn’t just endorsing the horrific record of the Tories, he’s admitting he cares little about Scotland’s unique immigration needs. Only with the full powers of independence can they be delivered.

“It’s complete economic illiteracy to copy the Tory plans which, supported by their terrible Brexit, has forced worker shortages in key Scottish sectors and seasonal agricultural work, laying on thick the damage of Brexit.

“With every general election people in Scotland are told to choose between Labour and the Tories, two terrible parties who, clearly, have very little separating them on the big issues. It doesn’t have to be this way, Scotland has a better choice with an escape from Westminster rule with independence.

Keith Brown, the SNP’s deputy leader, said the suggestion a Labour government in Westminster would be “better for Scotland” was “simply laughable” in a speech earlier in the month.

“Keir Starmer is just another Tony Blair,” he said.

“Under Starmer, the Labour Party is as Trumpian as the Tories in their denial of Scottish democracy.”

Brown added: “Labour supports the deeply damaging Brexit that Scotland did not vote for. I repeat, Labour supports Brexit, and stands against any Scottish aspiration for our country to re-join the European family of Nations.

“And never forget, never forgive that, in 2014, it was Labour who championed the ‘No’ campaign message that only a No vote would deliver economic stability. It seems absurd now, but that’s what Labour promised. They can’t be trusted with our future.

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“And we know through the bitter lessons of history that Labour are only ever the handmaidens of more Tory rule. If they get into power, they are soon turfed out by the Tories and gift to them the same powers of Westminster control they always abuse. It’s a pattern repeated time after time after time.”

Starmer again ruled out Britain rejoining the EU under a Labour government and in the same programme said pay rises for public sector workers could only be secured by strong economic growth.

He said: “In the end, the only way to a sustainable pay rise is if you grow the economy.

“The biggest problem of the last 12 years is that the economy hasn’t grown anything like it did under the last Labour government. That has to be the priority.

“That’s why we need to change government. We need respect for the institutions like the OBR and the Bank of England that actually give us stability, we need a proper credible plan for growth, because in the end a sustainable pay rise will only be available if we have growth under our economy.”