Hillary Clinton tells Europe to curb immigration and stop populism

  • "I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame," Clinton tells U.K. newspaper The Guardian.
  • Clinton suggests that immigration was inflaming voters and contributed to the election of President Trump and Britain's vote to leave the EU.
Hillary Clinton at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on October 15, 2017 in Cheltenham, England.
Matthew Horwood | Getty Images
Hillary Clinton at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on October 15, 2017 in Cheltenham, England.

European leaders should push for greater control over immigration in order to deal with the rise of right-wing politics, according to former Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.

"I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame," Clinton told U.K. newspaper The Guardian in an interview published Thursday.

Clinton suggested that immigration was inflaming voters and contributed to the election of President Donald Trump and Britain's June 2016 vote to leave the EU.

As Europe started to recover from its financial woes following its sovereign debt crisis of 2011, the continent witnessed an influx of migrants and refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East, particularly the civil war in Syria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel garnered praise in many quarters for her principled stance when migration peaked — allowing over 1 million migrants to enter the country in 2015 — but the decision also cost her dearly. Her position on migration has been cited as a reason that her party didn't fare so well in the country's last election and fueled the rise of right-wing party the Alternative for Germany.

"I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — 'We are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support' — because if we don't deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic."

Clinton's interview with The Guardian is available to read on its website here.

—CNBC's Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.

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