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Jeremy Corbyn: 'Don't blame immigrants for UK's economic problems'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn Credit: PA

Immigrants should not to be held to blame for Britain's economic difficulties, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has warned.

In an address to race equality think tank, Runnymede Trust on Saturday, Mr Corbyn said it was "vitally important" to protect Britain's diverse society in the wake of the referendum vote to leave the EU.

Speaking in Birmingham, he said that in "volatile times", when people feel insecure in their jobs and about the future of the country, there is a tendency to look for people to blame.

"In the wake of the Brexit decision, it is vitally important that we value, celebrate and protect our diverse society," he said.

"Syrian refugees did not trade in credit default swaps and crash the economy.

"Eastern European builders and technicians did not slash funding for children's centres and libraries.

"What we need is leadership that does not stoop to preying on those anxieties and blaming people who look differently, talk a different language or dress differently, for the mess that we're in."

Mr Corbyn accused the Conservatives of pursuing an agenda favouring the elite at the expense of the majority - particularly those in black and Asian communities.

"Under my leadership, a Labour government will commit to eliminate racial inequality in our economy and society," he said.

"It's indefensible that in Britain today, if you're black or Asian you are more likely to be living in poverty than if you're white.

"Or that young black men have experienced the worst long-term employment and economic outcomes in generations."

Mr Corbyn welcomed moves to combat hate crime in the UK, but said: "Any move to tackle such heinous crimes head on would be laudable if it didn't come from a Government which has actively stoked the fires of frenzied scaremongering as Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War."