The proposals will make us all poorer economically, socially and in terms of opportunity. They signify not a “global Britain”, but an inward-looking Government and a Prime Minister still obsessed with net migration targets. When the Government talk about taking back control of our borders, what they mean is ripping up mutual rights to live, study, work and enjoy family life across Europe, depriving future generations of the amazing opportunities that our generations have enjoyed. Free movement has been brilliant for our people, and brilliant for Scotland and the UK, too.
When the Government talk about a skills-based system, they mean nothing of the sort. It is, to all intents and purposes, a salary-based system. We are talking about the carers, key NHS workers, lab technicians, researchers, bricklayers, and many other essential workers that this country needs. So why are the Government intent on slashing the family, social security and settlement rights of workers coming here under that income threshold? The proposals are degrading for workers, bad for employers and bad for community cohesion.
Why is the Home Secretary intent on forcing businesses to endure the expense, red tape and dubious reliability of a Home Office immigration system, when free movement has worked perfectly well? This is the opposite of cutting bureaucracy. Will the Home Secretary confirm the revenue that this will cost the Treasury? Will he confirm what the analysis shows about lost growth to the economy?
Finally, these announcements will be utterly disastrous for Scotland—socially and economically. Has the Home Office modelled the effect they will have on Scotland’s population, economy and public finances? Does the Home Secretary seriously think that reducing EU migration to Scotland, possibly by over 80%, is a good thing? If this is the best the Government can do, there is no better illustration of why we need decisions on immigration to be in Scotland’s hands.