Keir Starmer will tell the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that the next Labour government will be “pragmatic” on immigration but that “any movement” in our point-based system would come with “new conditions for business”.
Addressing the body’s conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, the Labour leader is expected to say that the “common goal” of government and business must be to “help the British economy off its immigration dependency” and to “start investing more in training up workers who are already here”.
“Migration is part of our national story – always has been, always will be. And the Labour Party will never diminish the contribution it makes to the economy, to public services, to your businesses and our communities,” he will say.
“But let me tell you – the days when low pay and cheap labour are part of the British way on growth must end.
“Now, I know most businesses get this. But when we look at our economy as a whole, it can seem like we’re more comfortable hiring people to work in low-paid, insecure, sometimes exploitative contracts than we are investing in the new technology that delivers for workers, productivity and our country.
“And we can’t compete like that. Britain’s low pay model has to go. It doesn’t serve working people. It’s not compatible with grassroots growth.”
Starmer is expected say that his “three big priorities” would be “economic stability”, “higher skills” and “green growth”. He will argue that “every business in this room has a strategy for growth” and that “a nation needs one too”.
“Britain deserves better. A new partnership for prosperity. The path to a fairer, greener, more dynamic country. To higher wages, higher skills, higher productivity. To leading the world on the greatest challenge facing our planet. To giving working people a sense of hope, aspiration and possibility once again,” he will say.
The Labour leader will also promise business leaders a “new partnership” with a Labour government, that the party has said would be “different that anything that has gone before”. He will tell those watching that Labour has a plan for a “fairer, greener, more dynamic Britain” in which “aspiration is rewarded”.
Starmer told Labour members during his leadership campaign in 2020 that he would “bring back” freedom of movement after Brexit. He also included a commitment to “defend free movement as we leave the EU” as one of his ten pledges.
He said earlier this year, however, that a government under his premiership would not take the UK back into the EU single market or restore freedom of movement.