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Jeremy Corbyn Says UK Can Be Better Off Out Of The European Union

"Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle," Corbyn is expected to say.

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Jeremy Corbyn will use his first speech of 2017 to declare "Britain can be better off after Brexit" and will say he is not in favour of unlimited immigration to the UK.

Corbyn, who has previously defended the right of European immigrants to travel to the UK, now says he desires "reasonably managed migration" to Britain as part of a post-Brexit deal with the EU.

The change of tone on immigration is notable. Last June he told BuzzFeed News freedom of movement is "intrinsic to the European Union" and that the principle is something "we have to defend". At Labour's annual conference in September, his spokesperson went further and suggested Corbyn did not want any numerical level on immigration.

The Labour leader's relative positivity about Brexit result is perhaps less surprising. He is a lifelong Eurosceptic who sometimes appeared to be a reluctant campaigner for the Remain during last summer's referendum, while his team are aware that many Labour constituencies outside major cities voted heavily for Leave.

“Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle," Corbyn is expected to say in a speech on Tuesday. "Labour supports fair rules and reasonably managed migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

“Unlike the Tories, Labour will not offer false promises on immigration targets or sow division by scapegoating migrants. But Labour will take action against undercutting of pay and conditions by closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad, and strengthening workplace protections."

Corbyn will also set out an upbeat Brexit vision in which a Labour government would take advantage of leaving to the EU to allow state subsidies of key industries – something currently banned by Brussels.

“People voted for Brexit to regain control over our economy, our democracy, and people’s lives," he is expected to say. "Tory governments have hidden behind EU state aid rules because they don’t want to intervene. But EU rules can also be a block on the action that’s needed to support our economy, decent jobs, and living standards.

"There can be no question of giving Theresa May’s Tories a free pass in the Brexit negotiations. Unlike the Tories, Labour will insist on a Brexit that works not just for City interests, but in the interests of us all."

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who is positioning his party as the only remaining anti-Brexit political campaign, said the comments showed "Corbyn never had his heart in fighting to protect Britain’s place in Europe".

“He failed to pull a shift to keep us in the EU before the referendum," Farron said, "and now he is helping Theresa May, Liam Fox, and Boris Johnson yank us out of the single market."

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

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