Diane Abbott has attacked her fellow Labour MPs for fuelling anti-immigration sentiment in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
Speaking at an anti-racism event in Lower Clapton last Thursday, the shadow home secretary said she was “very disappointed” at a number of Labour MPs for claiming “immigrants are responsible for driving down wages and working conditions”.
The MP for Hackney Central said: “We are seeing the consequences of a rightward shift on migration and race everywhere we look.
“There is no question that much of the energy behind the Brexit vote was fuelled by anti-immigration rhetoric.
“There is no place for the Labour party having a narrative on immigration that is to the right of UKIP. You cannot out-UKIP UKIP and the Labour Party should not even be trying [to].”
In January, party leader Jeremy Corbyn was forced to clarify comments he made that appeared to accept the need for “reasonably managed migration”. He later told the BBC that he still supported free movement, but that Labour was not “wedded” to the idea.
"We won't tolerate racism being used to distract from the real issues" – Diane Abbott at Hackney Stand Up To Racism pic.twitter.com/tuV4XEY9Ng
— Hackney Post (@hackneypost) March 2, 2017
Ms Abbott was one of five speakers at the Hackney Stands Up to Racism rally at the Round Chapel in Lower Clapton on 2 March. The event, attended by around 80 people, was organised by Stand Up To Racism ahead of a national day of action in London, Cardiff and Glasgow on 18 March. Among the other speakers were Guardian editor-at-large Gary Younge and human rights activist Heena Khaled.
The meeting was at times heated, with two individuals being asked to step outside for a moment to calm down, after a dispute over how British people of colour were treated in Eastern Europe.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Younge praised the “excellent” contributions and the “good range of people” present.
— James Beeson (@jdbeeson16) March 2, 2017
On the importance of the event Mr Younge added: “The choir needs a song to sing. People need to have that community and understanding that there are like-minded people out there and that they’re not on their own.
“There’s a big march in a couple of weeks and hopefully events like this will help get people fired up and get some fire in their belly.”
(Top image credit: Tara Joshi/Hackney Post)