AN OXFORDSHIRE county councillor told the Labour Party’s conference that it must now have an ‘open debate’ about the benefits of immigration.

Emma Turnbull was one of the delegates from Oxford at this week’s conference in Brighton. She represents University Parks.

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She told the conference: “For a long time we have not had an open debate in the Labour Party about immigration. We have avoided it, feeling that it is too difficult, too divisive.

“But we can’t keep avoiding it. The EU referendum was fought by our opponents on the issue of immigration - taking back control of borders and ending free movement.”

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She said Brexit had ‘exposed the fragility of our current system and the need for a Labour Party that makes a positive case for immigration.’

She added: “We need a Labour Party that not only defends migrants, but explains what a fair, ethical immigration system looks like in the 21st century.

“We need to challenge the hostile environment and build a new approach that treats people with respect and dignity.”

Ms Turnbull, who has worked for Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds, said: “As a caseworker for my local MP, I saw non-EU constituents being systematically denied the opportunity for relatives and friends to come and visit.”