Owen Jones: The case for freedom of movement must not be abandoned | Owen Jones

The idea of free movement for EU citizens is politically toxic now. But we can change public perceptions

Freedom of movement in Europe has been all but abandoned as a cause in British politics. Brexit was far more about freedom of movement than our exact trading relationship with the EU, and the electorate rejected it. Even among remain voters, polling has suggested that more than half want increased border controls and European migration capped. Every demographic thinks there has been too much immigration over the last few years, even young voters, albeit far less so than their grandparents.

Faced with the reality of the referendum, Labour has a simple mantra. “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union,” reads the manifesto, as though describing the weather. But it is a political choice, even if the alternative might seem to spell electoral doom. This isn’t to question the anti-racist politics of the Labour leadership: for the London Labour left, issues of race and defending migrants and refugees were always an article of faith, not least for the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott. Jeremy Corbyn’s first act as Labour leader was to speak at a rally in defence of refugees, and speeches by leading figures emphasise challenging the scapegoating of the foreign-born.

Related: Warning of ‘utter chaos’ if May ends EU free movement next March

Related: It’s Labour who must have the difficult conversations on freedom of movement | Stella Creasy and Catherine West

Continue reading…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.