Wales politics

Carwyn Jones attacks Jeremy Corbyn's immigration policy

Jeremy Corbyn and Carwyn Jones
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn and Carwyn Jones campaigning in Maesteg before May's assembly election

Labour voters could switch to UKIP because of Jeremy Corbyn's stance on immigration, First Minister Carwyn Jones has warned.

Defending free movement of people, Mr Corbyn has pledged to deal with the "real issues of immigration", and not to offer "false promises" on numbers.

Mr Jones told The Guardian the position was "very London-centric".

He said other parts of the country saw immigration in a different light to the "cosmopolitan" capital.

Immigration was seen as a key issue behind the public vote to leave the EU in June's referendum.

At the Labour conference in September, Mr Corbyn said the party should focus on helping individual communities manage the pressure on public services from immigration rather than cut the numbers.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott defended the position in November, saying there were "real issues of disaffection" over immigration in traditionally Labour-voting parts of the country, but insisted the party should not change its view.

'Arms of UKIP'

In an interview published on Friday, Mr Jones said: "The danger is that's a very London-centric position - that is not the way people see it outside London.

"London is very different: it is a cosmopolitan city and has high levels of immigration. It has that history. It is not the way many other parts of the UK are."

The first minister said immigration was seen "very differently in Labour-supporting areas of the north of England for example".

"We have to be very careful that we don't drive our supporters into the arms of UKIP," he said.

Mr Jones said that while campaigning in the referendum, many people had said "we're voting out, Mr Jones, but, don't worry, we're still Labour".

"What I don't want is for those people to jump to voting UKIP," he added.

The first minister had argued for a Remain vote in the EU referendum but 52.5% of voters in Wales backed Brexit.

The Labour Party has been asked to comment.

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