by Atul Hatwal
Is Ed Miliband a Ukip sleeper agent?
At PMQs today, the Labour leader parroted Ukip’s lines on immigration at David Cameron: broken pledges to cut numbers, a system out of control, the need to be tougher; it was a miracle Miliband didn’t rehash talk of being swamped.
All the while, the Labour leader seemed blissfully unaware of the staggering, juddering, dissonant incoherence at the heart of the case he was bellowing, across the despatch box, at the prime minister.
Here are some basic facts: out of total net annual migration of 243,000 into the UK, 131,000 came from the European Union. That’s a significant chunk and represents a rise of almost 40% in the past year.
Europeans can come to the UK because freedom of movement across the EU’s member states is a central pillar of the union.
If Ed Miliband is going to make cutting immigration a centre-piece of Labour’s electoral offer, he will need to cut EU migration and that means either a change to freedom of movement or accept that Brexit is inevitable.
We can discount the former, because here’s what the new President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, had to say on the matter last week,
“We have a treaty. Freedom of movement since the Fifties is the basic principle of the European way of co-operating. These rules will not be changed.”
So presumably, Ed Miliband is about to announce that Labour is prepared to leave the EU?
Er, not so much. Here’s what the Labour leader had to say on British membership of the EU in March this year. (more…)