Theresa May is to call on international institutions to better represent people who feel left behind by globalisation, citing alienation from politics as one reason why the British people voted for Brexit.
The prime minister will tell delegates at the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday that Britain’s vote to leave the EU did not mean that voters wanted to “turn inwards or walk away from any of our partners in the world” but that people wanted “a politics that is more in touch with their concerns”.
The “increasing pace of globalisation” has “left people behind”, Mrs May will say, citing migration as a particular example of a challenging global trend. She will call for a “bold new multilateralism” that better represents the views of ordinary people.
“When we see the mass displacement of people and record levels of migration . . . we must ensure we are implementing policies that are fit for the challenges we face,” Mrs May will say.
Her speech comes the day after she warned fellow politicians that mass migration around the world risked undermining democratic support for the most vulnerable refugees.
“We need to ensure that we’re not undermining people’s willingness to give support, and help and protection to refugees who are fleeing conflict because of what we’ve seen in terms of mass movements,” the prime minister said on Monday, a remark that some observers interpreted as a coded rebuke to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
More than 1m migrants have travelled across Europe to reach Germany since Ms Merkel opened its borders last year. The chancellor said on Monday that she wished she could turn back the clock on her “open door” immigration policy.
Her slogan at the time, “We can do it”, underestimated the scale of the immigration challenge, she said.
Mrs May is lobbying world leaders at the UN summit to develop a co-ordinated global approach to migration. She wants to see migrants being kept in the first safe country they reach, rather than being allowed to travel onwards.
Although Mrs May has repeatedly refused to comment directly on Germany’s immigration policy, she warned on Monday of the economic consequences that can result when countries are seen as attractive locations for immigrants.
“We may see economic migrants leaving countries, people who perhaps are the very people who could help to develop the economies of those countries,” she said.
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