Labour Party conference: Abbott accuses Tories of ‘weaponising’ anti-immigrant sentiment | UK | News

The Shadow Home Secretary blamed “Tory opportunism” and claimed the Conservatives had “weaponised” the issue by pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment. 

Speaking at the conference, broadcast on Sky News, Diane Abbott raged at the Tories target to cut immigration. 

Ms Abbott insisted the Conservative’s target to cut immigration to below 100,000 was “bogus”. 

She said: “Another vital home affairs issue is immigration. Tory opportunism on immigration is a disgrace. 

“They continue to talk about bogus immigration targets which they have not met and will never meet. The Tories have weaponised immigration. 

“They have been prepared to pander anti-immigration sentiment whatever the cost to the economy and to communities.

“There are real labour market issues in relation to immigration. But, the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn will never scapegoat immigrants for these issues.”

The Shadow Home Secretary also criticised the Prime Minister for using EU citizens as bargaining chips in the negotiations. 

She added: “Far from immigrants being a drain on the public sector. The truth is, that without immigrants, and the children of immigrants, we would not have the National Health Service we have today. 

“And of course EU citizens in this country also play a vital role in the economy. The willingness of Theresa May to use them as bargaining chips in her negotiations is shameful. 

“We will guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in this country. It is vital for our economy and it is the right thing to do.”

During her speech in Florence, set out a new immigration system, which will be implemented during the two-year transitional phase as the UK quits the EU.

Mrs May downplayed fears that Europeans in the UK would suffer from Brexit, acknowledging that the decision to leave had “been a cause of great worry and anxiety for them and their loved ones”.

She added: “We want you to stay. We value you and we thank you for your contribution to our national life. It remains one of my first goals in this negotiation to ensure that you can carry on living your lives as before.” 

During her speech at Labour’s conference, the Shadow Home Secretary also pledged to reverse funding cuts to the police and to hire 10,000 new officers, arguing that “you cannot keep the nation secure on the cheap”.

Ms Abbott vowed to tackle the Prevent programme and referred to the Grenfell Tower disaster, asking why…

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