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Dickson criticises parties over Immigration Bill

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said it is "shameful" the DUP supported a Government Bill designed to end of freedom of movement after the UK leaves the EU.

Mr Dickson also said the Labour Party "disgracefully" only introduced a one-line whip on the matter, ensuring the Government was victorious. The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill passed 297-234, despite a Labour u-turn and late opposition to it.

"Labour initially announced they would not vote against the legislation but following a backlash, shifted its position. However, many of its MPs had previously been told by party whips they did not need to be present to vote, handing the Government a comfortable victory. Labour disgracefully abdicated its responsibility on this matter.

"The DUP support for this Bill was also shameful. The Bill is bad for our economy and our society in general. Immigration is a positive for the UK, particularly Northern Ireland. It enriches our society, with immigrants helping our economy to be competitive and maintaining the quality of our public services.

"In the joint letter from the then-First and Deputy First Minister in August 2016, it was outlined the challenges the local economy faced, with the region having a greater need for labour across a wide range of skill levels. Manufacturing and agri-food in particular have a dependency upon migrant labour.

"But those supposed concerns from the DUP appear to be just empty words. The local labour market is different from the rest of the UK and we need the ability to recruit across all skill levels and salary thresholds. The DUP are now preventing the very people from coming to Northern Ireland they were welcoming just a few years ago in that letter."