Aspiring Labour leader Andy Burnham has admitted defeat. Rather than stand firm on Britain’s right to a sovereign border he says Britain should welcome migrants like those now gathered in Calais to prevent talks on EU reforms from failing.
The MP claims the UK is not “playing our part” in dealing with the flood of refugees pouring through Europe. Rather, if the UK would take more people then the changes from Brussels being sought by Prime Minister David Cameron – ahead of an in/out referendum in EU membership – will be more easily achieved.
Mr Burnham is confident that British appeasement of its EU migration critics assured a “better position in terms of arguing for changes we want to see in respect of the European referendum”. He also said the focus must be on how Britain supports areas that would be affected by a migrant influx.
He added: “We can’t just say it is everyone else’s problem and not ours, we have got to play our part. I think if we were to do that I think we might get more of what we want to negotiate on EU migration.
“If we want to have ideas about protecting wages or migrants accessing social housing, more financial support for communities affected by migration – if we play our part responsibly on the migrant crisis then we would be more likely to get those things.”
The shadow health secretary, still lagging Jeremy Corbyn in opinion polls for the Labour leadership, said no one was “taking ownership of the problem” in relation to the ongoing migrant crisis, which has seem the largest mass trans-migration of people across Europe since the end of the Second World War.
Thousands are fleeing war and persecution across the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Mr Burnham added it was vital for Labour to deal more directly with the issue of immigration, claiming Labour campaigners have been “avoiding people’s eyes when this subject comes up on the doorstep”.