Immigration fuels high tempered debate clash

Frage and ap Iorwerth
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth clashed with Reform UK leader Nigel Farage during the debate [BBC]

The topic of immigration fuelled an often bad tempered clash at the the latest televised debate ahead of the general election.

The seven parties taking part in the BBC debate were the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Reform UK and the SNP.

Opening the debate on immigration, Reform UK leader Nigel Farage said all the other parties think questioning migration is “wrong”.

He said immigration was creating a “population crisis”, diminishing the quality of people’s lives, and this should therefore be an “immigration election”.

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth said the tone of the debate on immigration had to be changed.

He said "too much of it is framed around the bigotry of people like Nigel Farage".

He said Plaid Cymru would “stand up to Nigel Farage”, adding that “we need immigration for the health system, the care system and the economy”.

Challenging the claim of bigotry, Mr Farage sarcastically replied: "Open the doors. Let everyone come. Benefits for everybody."

'Race to the bottom on migration'

For the SNP, Stephen Flynn said migration was “absolutely essential” for public services, businesses and the economy.

He said we need to "end the demonisation" of migration.

“This race to the bottom on migration, driven by Nigel Farage, followed by the Conservative party and hotly chased by the Labour Party does not serve Scotland’s interests," he said.

Penny Mordaunt, for the Conservatives, said immigration was too high, adding that her party would have “an annual cap” on numbers.

“What that will do is take into account the economic needs of the workforce but also the pressures that immigration puts on communities,” she said.

“It will be Parliament which decides because the numbers are too high, over the next few years you can see it will come down."

Debate
Representatives of seven parties took part in the televised debate [PA Media]

Labour’s Angela Rayner said problems with housing, roads and health were nothing to do with immigration but to do with “the decimation that the Tories have done to our public services”.

She said Labour would scrap the Conservative government's Rwanda scheme and put the money into a new Border Security Command, which she said "would smash the gangs" trafficking people into the UK.

Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper said the Conservatives had made “a complete mess both of the migration system but also of the asylum system”.

She said: “We have people who are desperate and are fleeing war and persecution arriving on small boats... at the same time we have our NHS, social care, hospitality and engineering, can recruit the staff to boost our economy”.

Migration 'a complete mess'

For the Greens, Carla Denyer said: “If you were to meet a migrant in the NHS, they are more likely to be treating you than being ahead of you in the queue."

She said migrants had been a “good thing” for the UK – the Greens did not want “caps” on migration, they wanted a system which was “fairer and more humane”.

The General Election will be held on 4 July.