Wales politics

Pro-Brexit leaders shameless on immigration, says Lord Hain

Lord Hain
Image caption Lord Hain says immigration pledges were key to the Brexit campaign's success

The head of Labour's Welsh campaign to stay in the EU, Lord Hain, has called two prominent leave campaigners shameless for supporting some freedom of movement between the UK and the EU.

Monmouth MP David Davies has backed the idea provided "benefits and council houses" are stopped for EU migrants.

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies has also said free movement would be acceptable with an overall cap.

Lord Hain said it showed that Brexit campaigners "sold Leave voters a pup".

"They were not straight with them. Every person I bumped into on the street believed that Vote Leave would reduce or stop immigration, and Leave campaigners encouraged that belief. It was central to their success," he said.

"This is frankly shameless and shameful to renege on the promises that were made."

Earlier David Davies said the concept of a system continuing "some sort of freedom of movement" between the UK and the EU was "probably right" if "benefits and council houses" were stopped for EU migrants after Brexit

The Vote Leave campaign had called for voters to "take back control" of borders, backing an "Australian-style" points-based immigration system.

A majority of Welsh voters - as across the UK - backed Brexit in June's referendum, with much of the debate focused on immigration and the EU's system of freedom of movement.

Currently, EU citizens are able to live and work across the 28-member bloc.

Since Leave's success in the poll the nature of the UK's future relationship with the European Union after Brexit, and how immigration would work with remaining EU states, has been subject to debate.

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Media captionDavid Davies says he has no problem if people come to the UK to work

"We can't do anything about immigration from within the EU until we leave," the Conservative MP told the BBC's Good Morning Wales radio programme on Thursday.

"Even then I think we are probably going to ensure some sort of freedom of movement for countries already in the EU, and I think that's probably right actually.

But he added: "I do think we should stop providing benefits and council houses to people who are in the EU.

"I think anyone who comes over here should be expected to work, and it should be clear that they have a responsibility to find that work themselves.

"I think it's wrong we give people from other EU countries the same rights to benefits as someone born and brought up in Britain."

During the referendum campaign David Davies took part in a BBC Wales debate where he said he was fed up of criticism for raising the issue of immigration.

He claimed that because of EU membership, there was "uncontrolled migration of mainly young men" who were coming to the UK "from a variety of countries looking for a better way of life".

Andrew RT Davies added: "During the referendum campaign many voters told us that they want the government to have the ability to control the number of people coming to the UK, and that's absolutely right.

"At times that number may be higher, or lower - and would be set according to our priorities at the time."

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