Alan Johnson, the former home secretary [Image: David Gadd/Sportsphoto/Allstar].

It’s doubtful that they were ever particularly close, but Alan Johnson’s comments on benefits for EU migrants into the UK seem unlikely to endear him to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn opposes David Cameron’s proposal for a four-year in-work benefit ban on people coming into the UK from the EU; Johnson supports it.

But Johnson made it clear that the issue is a “sideshow” to him; it won’t reduce the amount of EU immigration (meaning it won’t act as intended); and there are more important matters to discuss.

It’s just a shame he doesn’t seem to have mentioned what they were.

An emergency brake to limit in-work benefits for EU migrants is a “sideshow” that will fail to reduce the number of arrivals to the UK, Alan Johnson has said.

As David Cameron prepares to meet the European council president, Donald Tusk, on the margins of a Syria donor conference in London, Johnson the former home secretary and leader of Labour’s pro-EU campaign, said he looked forward to discussing the “real issues”.

Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “On that specific issue [the emergency brake], I think that is progress. We believe in the principle of fair contribution. That is why it was in our manifesto that there should be a limit of two years before benefits are paid.”

Asked whether it mattered whether the brake would cut immigration numbers, Johnson said: “It was never going to do that … The issue of in-work benefits isn’t a draw factor … There are all kinds of factors why people choose to move round Europe. I don’t think that [in-work benefits] is one of them.

“This is a sideshow. The sideshow is almost out of the way and then we can get on with the real issues about the EU. As far as Ukip are concerned, we are not frightened to face up to this ‘fear of others’ argument they make.”

Source: Migrant benefits limit is sideshow in EU debate, says Alan Johnson | Politics | The Guardian

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