Chuka Umunna tells Theresa May: 'You're not some Nigel Farage tribute act'

Chuka Umunna has accused Theresa May of behaving like a "Nigel Farage tribute act" with her Conservative Party conference speech on immigration.

The home secretary was heavily criticised for saying high migration levels made a "cohesive society" impossible during her speech in October.

Mr Umunna, the former shadow business secretary, was just as critical during a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on Wednesday.

He told Mrs May: "You're not some Nigel Farage tribute act - you are the home secretary.

"The language you used in that speech and the tone of it, I don't think was responsible or temperate and that's what people expect of a home secretary. They might not expect it of Nigel Farage but they expect it of you."

Mrs May replied sternly: "You will not be surprised to hear Mr Umunna...that I do not agree with the way that you described that party conference speech."

She told Mr Umunna that she had a responsibility as home secretary to identify the impacts of "high, uncontrolled immigration" on society.

The home secretary provoked a fierce backlash when she told the conference in Manchester:

  • that the UK "does not need" migration at the current levels

  • the net economic effect was "close to zero"

  • mass immigration forced people "out of work altogether"

  • immigration threatens a "cohesive society"

Business leaders attacked the speech's "irresponsible rhetoric", while her political opponents said it showed the Tory's "Nasty Party" image was back.

But the prime minister defended Mrs May, telling ITV News' Tom Bradby that it was a "good, thoughtful speech".