Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has been accused of “whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment” over claims that continued free movement from the EU would cost an additional £4.1 billion is social security spending.
The Tories were challenged by the Liberal Democrats to show how they would find £7 billion in lost tax revenues resulting from an end to free movement after Brexit, the Independent reports.
Ms Coffey argued that analysis shows that should free movement from the EU continue it would cost an additional £4.1 billion in benefits spending by 2029, despite many experts agreeing that EU migrants contribute more in taxes than they take out in benefits.
“This analysis highlights the cost of Corbyn’s immigration policy to our public services,” Ms Coffey argued.
“The shocking thing is that this is yet another line item in Labour’s long list of uncosted pledges that will mean higher taxes for all of us.”
Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott told the Independent: “Dog whistle anti-migrant nonsense is the Tories’ fallback position.
“The truth is Conservative immigration policy is a toxic mess. They deported our own citizens and want to use the immigration system to create a two-tier workforce to benefit their billionaire friends.
“They also cut public services, homes and schools to fund handouts for the richest – and then blame migrants for the consequences of their own policies.
“This is just dodgy Tory accounting on our plans, when they are unable to put a figure on their own. They cannot be trusted.
“Most European migrants come here to work and are large net contributors to public finances.”
Responding to Ms Coffey’s comments, a Lib Dem spokeswoman said: “This is the nasty party at its nastiest, whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment in a desperate attempt to win votes.
“No wonder Donald Trump and Nigel Farage support Boris Johnson. The Conservative Party really is the Brexit Party now.”
She continued: “The Tory claim that free movement costs the UK is completely and utterly wrong.
“The government’s own Migration Advisory Committee has stated categorically that EU citizens pay more in taxes than they get in benefits.
“And that’s before you consider the huge contributions of the 65,000 who work in our NHS, and the thousands more who work in other public services.”