Burnham hits out at immigration rhetoric

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham

HOME secretary Theresa May has over-stepped the mark with immigration rhetoric according to borough MP Andy Burnham.

The new shadow home secretary has said proposals for landlords to check immigration status could lead to refusals for people with “ethnic-sounding names.”

The Leigh MP’s claims come as the controversial Immigration Bill returns to the Commons for discussion this week. They also follow Ms May’s speech at the Tory party conference last week which said immigration harms social cohesion.

Mr Burnham told the Evening Post: “I know that immigration is an important issue for people in the borough and I will support measures to tackle illegal immigration and to make European migration work better.

“But equally this is territory that you have to take real care, you can really cause harm to vulnerable people if you’re not careful.

“I think Theresa May has gone beyond that line with some of the rhetoric that she’s been putting out there and it’s my job to pull that back.”

Mr Burnham said landlord checks, known as the Right to Rent scheme, could become the modern equivalent of “no dogs, no blacks, no Irish” signs.

His claims were backed by research from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) which said 42 per cent of landlords were less likely to let house and flats to someone without a British passport and 27 per cent said they were reluctant to deal with potential tenants with foreign sounding names if these checks were brought in.

Mr Burnham added such measures could lead to widespread discrimination. Ms May said in her speech to the Tory conference last week: “We must have an immigration system that allows us to control who comes in to our country. Because when immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.”