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Ed Miliband speech at Airbus

Ed Miliband MP, leader of the Labour Party, in a speech today to staff at Airbus in Broughton, said:

It is great to be here at Airbus.

And thank you for that incredibly kind introduction.

This is an amazing company.

You provide jobs and world-class training for our young people.

You are at the cutting edge of new technology, like the Airbus 380.

Showing the world how it is done.

Now for Labour, the biggest issue facing our country is whether we can restore the link between the hard work of working people in Britain and their chance of building a decent life for themselves and their family.

For so many people, this feels out of reach.

Like at no time for generations.

By providing high-wage, high-skill jobs, Airbus helps ensure that better future for so many working people and their families.

And, of course, you are one of the great European success stories too.

An incredible consortium, drawing on talent from across Britain and the continent.

Bringing together the fantastic expertise of people here, as well as in France, Germany, Spain.

Competing on a global scale.

And our membership of the European Union helps that.

The thousands of British people who work for Airbus, give us thousands of reasons for supporting Britain’s membership of the EU.

But we need a European Union that helps people in Britain build a better life for themselves and their families.

It doesn’t do that as it should right now.

And I want to talk to you about one of the biggest issues that our country faces and Europe faces.


There is deep discontent in our country at the moment.

And immigration is one of the issues many people are raising.

Let me tell you about me.

I am the son of immigrants.

My Mum and Dad fled from the Nazis at the time of the Second World War.

One newspaper wrote last year that my Dad hated Britain.

Some of you may have seen it.

He didn’t.

He loved Britain because it gave him that chance to build a good life for himself and his family.

Being the son of immigrants, I know that my parents contributed to this country.

And I know that is true of so many people who have come to Britain from abroad and made it richer, fairer and stronger.

Including people here today.

With my background and my beliefs, I am never going to tell you that Britain should turn its back on the world.

It just won’t work.

And it is not who we are.

But I am not going to tell you either, nor should Labour ever tell you, that we should ignore people’s concerns about immigration.

Yesterday it was four years ago to the day that I launched my campaign to be Leader of the Labour Party.

I said back then that Labour needed to go on a journey of change on immigration.

In the past, when people told us about their worries, my party often dismissed them.

Said that they were based on prejudice.

You probably remember.

We said that people needed to change their attitudes.

But in fact, we needed to change ours.

I don’t believe it is prejudiced to worry about immigration.

Because people see their communities changing fast around them.

They worry about the entitlements people have when they come here and the pressure it might put on the system.

And, especially with the cost of living crisis that our country faces, people ask about the impact of immigration on their own wages and terms and conditions.

So people’s worries are understandable.

And we need to do something about them.

Now some people might be asking: can we really deal with these concerns and stay within the European Union?

My answer is yes.

But the EU needs to change.

We need to learn the lessons of the past when countries, like Poland, came into the EU.

So Labour wants to negotiate longer controls for new countries.

So that workers have to wait longer until they can come to work here.

We need to act on people’s sense of fairness.

Like changing the rules on child benefit and child tax credit, so that money doesn’t go to support kids who don’t live in this country.

And most importantly of all for me, we need to stop a race to the bottom between British citizens and workers coming here from abroad.

Businesses in Britain like being able to hire people from across the EU.

But for that to continue here’s the deal:

I support that right but it can’t be a green light for simply undercutting wages.

And you all know what I am talking about:

Employers not paying the minimum wage.

Hardly anyone gets prosecuted but we know it goes on a lot.

It’s wrong.

And a Labour government will have proper enforcement.

Recruitment agencies that say: “Only overseas workers welcome.”

It’s wrong.

And we will stop it.

Agency work used as a way to undermine wages and conditions.

It’s wrong.

And, again, we would change it.

And part of the deal also is that employers have a responsibility to help train the next generation here.

We need to have more firms making the kind of contribution to world-class apprenticeships that Airbus does today.

That’s why, under a Labour government, any company bringing in skilled workers from outside the EU, will have a legal duty to provide apprenticeships to the next generation.

Alongside this, we need strong borders with people being checked in and out.

And we need people who do come here to integrate into this country too.

When my Dad came here, he learnt English.

I believe people who come here should speak English, especially when they work face-to-face with the public in our NHS or local councils.

So we’ll make it a proper requirement that they do.

Strong border controls.

Fair rules on entitlements.

Measures to stop under-cutting of wages.

Community integration.

Now, some people want to go further and say we should get out of the European Union.

I can’t and I won’t promise to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world.

Because Britain succeeds most as an outward looking, confident country, trading and competing with those beyond our borders.

Right now so many people are worried that things aren’t working for them.

I agree.

My mission as Leader of the Labour Party is to provide the answers to this discontent.

Real, practical solutions.

Not false promises.

Or the wrong answers.

We will never again turn our backs on people who are worried about immigration.

But neither will we turn our back on the rest of the world.

Our openness can help us build a more prosperous country.

But we will do it in a way that advances, and doesn’t hold back, people’s ability to build a better life for themselves and their families.

And it is working with great companies like Airbus that we will succeed in that task.

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