Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has waded into the increasingly heated debate about immigration, arguing that curbing the number of people coming into the country would be disastrous.
Mr Blair warned Labour against trying to emulate the more rigorous controls being advocated by UKIP.
“Let’s be clear: we don’t think that UKIP’s right, not on immigration and not on Europe,” he told Progress magazine.
“The first thing you’ve got to be really careful of doing is … saying things that suggest that they’re kind of justified in their policy, because what you’re actually going to do is validate their argument when in fact you don’t believe in it.”
He said the type of controls favoured by Nigel Farage’s party would take the country backwards economically and politically and went as far as to suggest they were motivated by prejudice.
Mr Blair’s intervention may anger some of Labour’s current front bench, who are aware that the party is little trusted on the issue of immigration.
Their current leader Ed Miliband has previously admitted that New Labour did make mistakes in regard to immigration, although he has been at pains to make clear he will not be swayed by UKIP’s policy – despite the fact that the Eurosceptic party is deliberately targeting traditional Labour strongholds.