Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement, Corbyn to say

File photo dated 08/10/16 of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is urging socialist and progressive pa

File photo dated 08/10/16 of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is urging socialist and progressive parties across Europe to rally to counter the rise of the "populist right". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday December 3, 2016. In a speech to the Party of European Socialists in Prague on Saturday, the Labour leader will warn that unless progressives break with a "failed economic and political establishment" the far right will fill the gap. See PA story POLITICS Corbyn. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Labour's leader will insist his party is not wedded to freedom of movement for European Union citizens in his first major speech of the year.

Amid growing pressure to show Labour is listening to the concerns of people who voted to leave the European Union, Jeremy Corbyn will distance himself from his Liverpool party conference speech in which he suggested there was no need for further controls on the movement of people.

He will travel to pro-Brexit Peterborough where he will say he will take action to reduce the number of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors - regardless of the final Brexit deal.

He will say Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement 'as a point of principle' - but will claim the country could not afford to lose full access to the European markets on which so many British businesses and jobs depend.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made clear the UK will not fully access the single market without free movement

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But Mr Corbyn will say: 'Labour supports fair rules and reasonably managed migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU. Unlike the Tories, Labour will not offer false promises on immigration targets or sow division by scapegoating migrants. But Labour will take action against undercutting of pay and conditions by closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad and strengthening workplace protections. That would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal.'

Shadow business secretary and Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said freedom of movement had been good for the economy, but accepted the benefits of freedom of movement hadn't helped everyone.

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'That is what we as a country have to address.'

But he added that there would always be a need for people from other countries to come in with different skills and abilities.

'If anyone wants me to deny that or to say we can put shutters up and close ourselves off from the rest of the world, I'm afraid you are living in cloud cuckoo land. It cannot happen without catastrophic consequences for our economy. What we have to do is find a compromise to get the best possible deal in Europe to get access to the single market and a fair and balanced policy on the freedom of movement and migration. The priority has to be the economy.'

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