Plans to demand voter identification at polling stations will "disproportionately" discriminate against ethnic minorities, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Queen's Speech confirmed Government plans to introduce changes that would see voters denied a ballot paper unless they bring photographic ID, such as a passport or driver's licence, with them to the polls.

Labour Party leader Mr Corbyn is due to visit the Black Cultural Archives in south London on Tuesday, where he will lay out fears that those from black, Asian and other minority backgrounds stand to be worst hit by the proposed reforms to the voting process.

Speaking ahead of his visit to the Brixton centre, Mr Corbyn said: "These plans are clearly discriminatory and a blatant attempt by the Tories to suppress voters, deny people their democratic rights and rig the result of the next general election.

"The people that the Tories are trying to stop voting will be disproportionately from ethnic minority backgrounds, and they will disproportionately be working class voters of all ethnicities."

A party spokesman said there was only one conviction out of 28 allegations of in-person voter fraud in 2017, after a total of 44 million votes were cast.

According to party research, 3.5 million UK citizens do not have access to any photo ID, with 11 million lacking a passport or driving licence.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "Showing ID to vote is a reasonable and proportionate way to protect our elections - it is something people already do in everyday life and voters in Northern Ireland have been doing it with ease for decades.

"Voter ID is one part of a body of work this Government is delivering to give the public confidence that our elections are secure and fit for the 21st century."

Tory Party chairman James Cleverly accused Mr Corbyn of "sowing the seeds of division".

"If anything, tougher checks against electoral fraud will protect the democratic rights of all communities," Mr Cleverly added.

Mr Corbyn said a Labour government would put people from ethnic minority backgrounds "at the heart of our democracy" by commissioning a race and faith consultation to investigate racial inequality.

The party also plans to introduce an equal pay audit to close the race pay gap, start an inquiry into recruitment discrimination and consider initiatives such as name-blind recruitment, as well as implementing the Parker Review recommendations to increase ethnic diversity on the boards of Britain's largest companies.

Mr Corbyn is due to visit the archives - the only national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in the UK - to commemorate Black History Month.

The Islington North MP will attend with shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler to discuss Labour's plans to improve the teaching of black British history and support a new "emancipation educational trust" to educate future generations about slavery and the struggle for freedom.

"Black history is British history, and it must not be limited to one month each year," Mr Corbyn said.

"It is vital that we build on the successes of Black History Month and develop a more inclusive understanding of our shared history."

Photo: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

Published: by Radio NewsHub
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