Alan Johnson has attacked David Cameron for narrowing the EU debate, by focussing all attention on the issue of migrants benefits.
Johnson, who is leading Labour’s campaign to stay in the EU, appeared on The Andrew Marr show this morning to make the case for Britain to stay in the EU. He pointed out that issues like climate change can only be solved by countries working together, and that the EU was an essential “political union”.
He slammed the Prime Minister for narrowing the debate, saying there has been a lot of focus on Cameron’s attempt to ban migrants who are in work from receiving benefits until they have been employed in the UK for four years. Cameron is thought to have abandoned these plans in favour of imposing new limits on benefit payments to out-of-work migrants instead of those people in jobs. Johnson said this focus had distracted from other important issues.
Arguing against limiting benefits in the way Cameron has proposed, Johnson suggested the debate had become skewed. “No country has more of its people living and working in other developed countries than Britain,” he said.
On the migrant crisis, Johnson said Britain seems to be “over at the exit door whinging and moaning”, when it should be at the forefront of trying to unite countries around an agreed plan.
The former Home Secretary argued that Britain is much better protected in terms of social affairs and economic affairs if it remains in the EU, and that EU reform is a process.
He was also asked about the Stop the War Christmas party, which Jeremy Corbyn attended on Friday evening despite some protest from within the Parliamentary Labour Party. Johnson said it was not a problem that Corbyn attended the “Christmas bash”. He said the “danger” would be if Labour tried to “emulate being a protest group and shape our party in that way”. But Johnson noted he has “no doubt” that this is not part of Corbyn’s plans.