Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at Sir Keir Starmer as a row over Labour’s immigration policy erupted. The former Labour leader took to Twitter this morning after Sir Keir told the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference that businesses had to wean themselves off reliance on cheap labour from overseas.
Mr Corbyn, who now sits as an independent MP, said: “Without immigration, the trains wouldn’t run, businesses wouldn’t function and the NHS wouldn’t exist.
“We will not end cheap labour by dividing workers and belittling migrants’ contribution.
“We introduce a £15 min wage, end zero-hours contracts & back striking workers instead.”
Meanwhile, his close ally Diane Abbott also weighed in on the row.
She said: “It is completely true that the Tories have done immense damage to the economy. This is the biggest fall in living standards in living memory.
“Tories use migration as a distraction from the effects of their policies. We need an alternative.”
It comes after Sir Keir distanced himself from his predecessor, who led the party to two general election defeats, as he sought to woo business chiefs at the CBI conference today.
The Labour leader warned the days of low-paid labour from overseas must end as he told bosses to train British workers to end the UK’s “immigration dependency”.
He said: “Our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency.”
Sir Keir also insisted he has turned Labour “inside out” since Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
Asked by an attendee at the CBI conference if the rest of his party are behind him on his plans, he said: “The Labour Party has changed.
“We’ve turned the Labour Party inside out and that’s particularly significant when it comes to the way we’re working with business.
“I say to you loud and clear, this Labour Party has changed, there is no going back and it is united behind what we’re trying to achieve.”
He also said he wants a new partnership with the business community as he distanced himself from Mr Corbyn, who was suspended from Labour in 2020 over his reaction to a critical report about anti-Semitism in the party under his leadership.
He said: “This is a different Labour Party and there is no going back, we are ready for partnership.”
He said Labour would “give Britain the clear economic leadership it needs” and told bosses the party would “work with you to drive our country forward”.
Sir Keir, who was shadow Brexit secretary under Mr Corbyn, said: “Not just a pro-business party, but a party that is proud of being pro-business, that respects the contribution profit makes to our jobs, growth and our tax base.
“That gets that working people want success as well as support, understands that backing private enterprise is the only way that Britain pays its way in the world.
“This is a matter of conviction for me and I have united my party behind it.”
He described his last party conference as “the best conference we’ve had, frankly, since 1996”, which came ahead of Sir Tony Blair’s landslide general election victory.
It comes after Rishi Sunak dodged directly answering the CBI’s demands for immigration to be used to plug gaps in the domestic workforce during his speech yesterday.