Carla Denyer responds to Keir Starmer's CBI comments on migrant workers

Co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer, comments on Keir Starmer's speech to the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference – which features his plans for helping ‘the British economy off its immigration dependency’.

Carla Denyer, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Bristol West
Carla Denyer, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Bristol West

Jon Craig

Earlier today (22 November), Labour Leader Keir Starmer gave his speech to the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference in Birmingham. Discussing ‘Labour’s plan for Britain’, Starmer presented his aim to ‘help the British economy off its immigration dependency to start investing more in training workers who are already here’.

Responding to Keir Starmer’s speech to the CBI earlier today, co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer, said: “When he stood for Labour leader, Keir Starmer said he would defend migrants’ rights. Fast forward to today’s CBI conference speech and it seems Labour are now trying to outflank the Tories on anti-migrant rhetoric.

“Migration is now viewed purely through an economic lens, where migrants are only welcome if they fill a skills gap. Completely absent is any suggestion that our immigration system should be based on compassion and dignity. 

“Most people seeking asylum in the UK are doing so because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Or because they are pushed from their homes by war, poverty or climate change. 

“That’s why Greens believe an asylum system must be grounded in compassion, not simply led by the economic needs of the host country. We’d introduce safe routes to claim asylum, scrap the hostile environment and reintroduce freedom of movement.” 

In response to comments Starmer made on Brexit, where he repeated that a Labour government would not take the UK back into the single market or the customs union but seek to make the current arrangements work better, Denyer added: “Six years on from the referendum, we can see clearly there are no economic opportunities from Brexit; nor any social or environmental benefits. Brexit has been a disaster.

“The Office for Budget Responsibility said last year that the impact of Brexit on the UK economy will be worse in the long run than the coronavirus pandemic. So Keir Starmer talking of the importance of economic growth within the current Brexit arrangements is to ignore the elephant in the room standing in the way of economic success. 

“The Green Party wants the UK to rejoin the customs union, maintain alignment with EU law where it offers environmental and social protections and reinstate freedom of movement. We also want to rejoin the EU at some point in the future when the conditions are right. And the majority of Brits now agree with us. In a recent poll, 53 per cent of people said they want to rejoin the EU compared to 34 per cent who want to stay out.”