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Ipswich MP Sandy Martin attacks leaked Brexit immigration plans

PUBLISHED: 13:07 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:07 08 September 2017

Sandy Martin new Labour MP for Ipswich Picture-Seana Hughes

Sandy Martin new Labour MP for Ipswich Picture-Seana Hughes

A Suffolk MP has slammed a leaked government plan to slash immigration saying: “We should not be in the business of splitting up families.”

Labour’s Sandy Martin spoke out after a Home Office plan to drastically curtail who can come to the UK post-Brexit was made public. The proposals have come under fire from business leaders as well as politicians from all parties.

The document – marked “extremely sensitive” and written last month – sets out how Britain would end free movement of EU citizens but more controversially how restrictions would attempt to deter all but highly-skilled workers.

The plans include stopping family members coming to join loved ones in Britain.

“We should not be in the business of splitting up families,” the Ipswich MP said. “What this leaked document suggests is we would be doing just that. If someone comes here – legally – and is contributing to our country and our economy how can we stop their wife or husband or children joining them? It would be cruel.

“It seems to me that the Home Office is saying they would manage EU immigration in the same way they do non-EU immigration currently. Which is with huge inefficiency. We cannot trust this government to get it right.

“We need to be grown up about the fact that there is always going to be immigration. How we manage that is the question. I absolutely support the push to ensure there are jobs for British people.

“But when someone is contributing to this country to stop their family joining them is wrong.

“Of course it is also a misconception to believe that EU citizens have been able to come here and just claim benefits on day one. They are able to come and if after three months they have no work they cannot just stay and claim. There is a lot of lies and untruths out there we should address.”

Around 2.2 million – about 7% of the total workforce – EU nationals currently work in Britain and some business leaders fear that restrictions could hit some sectors particularly hard and damage the economy.

A study by the union GMB of ONS figures showed that EU workers account for as much as 20% of the workforce in as many as 18 specialist sectors.

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