Neil Coyle criticised his own party’s policy of ending freedom of movement this week, after the leadership confirmed Labour’s stance had not changed despite whipping its MPs to vote in favour of ‘Common Market 2.0’ in the latest series of Brexit indicative votes.
As widely reported, Labour has confirmed that its official party policy remains and end to freedom of movement after Brexit, and replace with ‘reasonable management of migration’.
But after MPs were encouraged to back the option to stay in the single market in parliament’s indicative votes, it had been hoped the party was changing its approach.
Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP, Neil Coyle, a firm Remainer, told the News: “There are almost 130,000 people who live in my constituency, and over 300,000 of us in Southwark.
“All of us lose out by the ending of freedom of movement.
“Every single one of us gets poorer and has less opportunities to holiday, work, study, live or even fall in love in, or with, 27 other countries.
“No one can pretend to me that is a good thing.”
The policy has strong opposition within the party, including more than 3,000 Labour members who have signed a statement calling on Corbyn to backtrack.
The group argue migrants had become the scapegoats for “an unaccountable elite who have run the economy in their own narrow interests”, explaining: “A system of free movement is the best way to protect and advance the interests of all workers, by giving everyone the right to work legally, join a union and stand up to their boss without fear of deportation or destitution.
“Curtailing those rights, or limiting migrants’ access to public services and benefits, will make it easier for unscrupulous employers to hyper-exploit migrant labour, which in turn undermines the rights and conditions of all workers.”
As the News has reported, there are concerns Brexit is already worsening staff shortages in the NHS in Southwark. One in five midwives at Guy’s and St Thomas’ is from the EU.
The council is so concerned about the impact of Brexit on key workers and Southwark’s economy, it has set up a £2 million fund to help prepare for No Deal.
Anood Al-Samerai, Southwark Liberal Democrat Council group leader, said the policy was proof Labour’s leadership was pro-Brexit.
“For all the bluster and boasts about how progressive they are, the indisputable fact of the matter is that Labour is officially a pro-Brexit, anti-immigrant party,” she said.
“Britain in general, and Southwark especially, has been built by those who chose to move here and build lives, families and communities, making us all better off than we would otherwise be.”