Election 2017

Election 2017: Corbyn says 'no false promises' on immigration

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright PA

Jeremy Corbyn says he will make no "false promises" about cutting migration if Labour wins the election.

He said he would "manage migration based on the needs of this country" and stop "unscrupulous" firms using cheap foreign workers to "undercut" pay.

He dismissed reports of a plan to bring in unskilled EU migrants after Brexit, saying it was not party policy.

Tory leader Theresa May has vowed to get net migration below 100,000 a year - but has not said by when.

She did not meet this target in her seven years as home secretary and some, such as former Chancellor George Osborne, have said the Conservatives have no idea how to do it.

But Mrs May insisted on keeping it in her party's manifesto, arguing that current levels of immigration were not sustainable and reducing it would be a key focus of Brexit negotiations.

'Skills shortage'

Speaking on a visit to Devon, she said: "I want to ensure that we're controlling migration because too high, uncontrolled migration puts pressure on our public services.

"But it also lowers wages at the lower end of the income scale. I want to ensure we control migration. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party want uncontrolled migration."

Mr Corbyn said Labour wanted to manage migration in line with the UK's economic needs and the rights of family reunion - but unlike Mrs May he would not be making "false promises".

He said it was also clear that the UK had a skills shortage and that had to be met from somewhere.

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Image caption Theresa May visited a Plymouth fishery as she campaigned in the area on Wednesday

"If we didn't have migrant workers either from outside Europe or within Europe working in our National Health Service... it would be in an even worse state than it is at the present time."

He said "we will manage that situation" and end the "appalling race to the bottom" of "unscrupulous employers importing wholesale workforces from lower-paid regimes in order to come to this country and undercut people at work in this country."

He was quizzed at a press conference about a Daily Telegraph story, which claimed Labour was considering bringing back a scrapped visa system to allow unskilled workers from the EU to come and work in the UK after Brexit.

"What you have been reading is a document that was being discussed between researchers in our teams, as happens every day of the week in every party and all around Parliament.

"Our policy is in our manifesto; that is the policy that we will be carrying forward."

With polling day just over a week away, the two largest parties are focusing on their core messages - public services for Labour and Brexit for the Tories.

Labour is promising to rebuild public services by investing billions in the NHS, schools and social care.

Mr Corbyn claimed that by 2022, 5.5 million people could be on NHS waiting lists in England, if the Tories win.

On education, he said children were being crammed into classrooms with "begging letters" sent to parents asking for cash.

Mr Corbyn highlighted Labour's plans to cap school class sizes at 30 for five to seven-year-olds and provide free school meals to all primary school children.

Labour has said it will invest £37bn in the NHS and £8bn in social care by the end of the next parliament if it wins the election.

The Conservatives responded by saying Mr Corbyn would fail to get a good Brexit deal for the UK, threatening investment in services.

They are offering increases in NHS spending in real terms to reach £8bn extra per year by 2022/23.

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Image caption Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb wants a cross-party commission on NHS funding

Alongside that, they are proposing to change the social care system so that those receiving care at home are liable for costs if they have assets worth at least £100,000 - with a consultation taking place on a limit to how much people would pay.

They have said they will scrap free school lunches for all offered to infants in England, but offer free breakfasts across the primary years and pump an extra £4bn into schools by 2022.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said: "Made-up numbers from Corbyn cannot hide the fact he's not up to the job of getting the deal we need.

"Theresa May has the plan to get the right Brexit deal, keep our economy strong, and invest billions more in public services. But a loss of just six seats and Theresa May's government will lose its majority."

The Liberal Democrats called for a cross-party commission to manage NHS funding in the long term.

The party's health spokesman Norman Lamb said a long-term solution was needed, accusing the Tories of a "back of the fag packet" approach.

"I want an NHS that meets people's needs but there's a cost to that and we have to be honest with people," he said.

A seven-way general election TV debate takes place later, with Home Secretary Amber Rudd representing the Tories instead of Prime Minister Theresa May, who has refused to take part.

Mr Corbyn has confirmed that he will take part in that debate, having originally said that he would not participate unless Mrs May was there.

Also taking part in the TV panel will be Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, UKIP leader Paul Nuttall, SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood. It will be on BBC1 at 19:30 BST.

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