A Fylde coast Labour MP has hit back at criticism from a senior Wyre councillor over the question of immigrants.
The leader of Wyre Council, Coun Peter Gibson, slammed Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith over comments she made on the Daily Politics show.
Conservative member Coun Gibson said her comments that immigrants contributed the most in her constituencies was an insult to Fleetwood residents and he called on her to retract her comments.
But Ms Smith blasted the councillor as opportunistic and accused him of stirring up community tensions between Wyre residents.
Appearing on the Daily Politics show, Ms Smith was being quizzed about her party’s position on immigration and commented: “Where immigration brings benefits…it should be welcomed…migrants in my community are the ones that contribute the most.”
Coun Gibson accused her of avoiding questions over Labour’s policy on immigration by her instance on not being drawn on “numbers”, against a background of all 14 districts in Lancashire voting to leave the European Union.
And he said: “Whilst I recognise the contribution migrants make in the borough I am sure hard working Fleetwood born residents will be incensed that their MP thinks that migrants contribute most to the Fleetwood community.
“It is an outrageous claim to make and I call on Cat Smith to retract her comments.”
But the MP hit back: “Peter Gibson should know better than to stir up community tensions between Wyre residents in this way.
“As a Council Leader he should act with more decorum than to take words out of context.
“He will know that the point I was making was that European immigrants who arrived in the UK since 2000 have contributed more than £20bn to UK public finances between 2001 and 2011.
“Moreover, they have endowed the country with productive human capital that would have cost the UK £6.8bn in spending on education.
“According to the UCL Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, European immigrants to the UK have paid more in taxes than they received in benefits.
“Whilst I may not have made the points as clearly as I intended to on the live television programme, Peter Gibson knows fine well how highly I regard all my constituents from Fleetwood to Lancaster and whether they were born in the country or not. Trying to score political points this way by stirring up tensions is irresponsible and I would expect more from a person holding a post as a community leader.”