Keir Starmer and Nigel Farage
Farage posted a video in response to Starmer’s speech to the CBI conference, in which he urged UK businesses to wean themselves off “immigration dependency”, warning that “low pay and cheap labour” had to end.
Starmer’s comments came a day after Rishi Sunak also addressed the business group.
Former UKIP leader Farage said: “So during Jeremy Hunt’s budget and since, and yesterday at CBI conference, the Tories have made clear they’re going to continue with large scale mass legal immigration.
“And oh boy! Their paymasters in the big political parties, the big global companies are delighted.
“Today, Keir Starmer says we must stop the reliance on cheap foreign labour, start training our own people.
“What with that, and saying the House of Lords must be removed in its current shape, Starmer is now repeating the UKIP 2015 manifesto.
“He may not mean any of it, of course, but to think the Labour Party are now to the right of the Conservatives on immigration. That’s where we are, British politics, today.”
Keir Starmer says we must end our reliance on cheap foreign workers and start training our own people.
Labour are now to the right of the Tories on immigration! pic.twitter.com/YCO0nQWuLs
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) November 22, 2022
Starmer acknowledged the need for businesses to recruit the staff they needed now, while ensuring that in the longer term Britons had the skills needed to fill vacancies in the economy.
“Of course we will be pragmatic," he said. "Of course we understand that we need to act now so that we help business and drive growth.
“But we have to address and run towards the challenge that is skills, run towards the challenge that is ensuring we have everybody back in the workforce, because there are hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t working now who were working just a few years ago.
“This is, for me, an economic argument, not a push for political tactics.”
He said trade unions “must be a crucial part of our partnership”.
“Our common goal must be to help the British economy off its immigration dependency.”
However, Starmer would not commit to “arbitrary” numbers on bringing down immigration.
A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Keir Starmer talks tough on immigration, but all his ‘policy’ amounts to is giving big business all the cheap, low-skilled foreign labour it asks for. Labour wouldn’t lift a finger to support our domestic workforce to fill vacancies.
“He is a dyed-in-the-wool open borders advocate who wants to give illegal migrants priority access to work permits and whose shadow home secretary won’t even say if she wants to see numbers fall.”