LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour would crack down on immigration if elected next year, its leader Ed Miliband said on Thursday, taking a tougher line on the issue in response to the rise of the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP).
A poll on Thursday showed UKIP, which wants tighter immigration controls along with an EU exit, was on course to win its second parliamentary seat in a by-election next month.
Speaking in southeast England where that single-seat vote is taking place, Miliband promised a Labour government would introduce new laws on immigration in its first year in power, including preventing recruitment agencies hiring only from abroad.
Immigrants from the European Union would also have to wait longer before they can claim welfare payments, while greater controls would be put in place at borders to keep track of who has come in and out of the country, he said.
"We must understand these are real issues and show that we are ready to act on them," Miliband said. "That is why I have changed Labour's approach on immigration."
Last week Prime Minister David Cameron also hardened his line on immigration, which polls show is one of voters top concerns.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison)