Un International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:41 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Angela Crawley Angela Crawley Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Pensions), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Youth affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Children and Families), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities) 8:41 pm, 8th April 2019

I wholeheartedly agree with the hon. Lady, and she is right to highlight that. Whether through football or our conversations in this place, in the media or on social media platforms, the message that we send to the world—and that world leaders send—implying that those things are acceptable has a clear resonance in society and cannot go unaddressed.

Before, during and after the Brexit referendum, there was a distinct growth in the volume and acceptability of xenophobic discourse on migration, foreign nationals and refugees in everyday life. None of that is aided by the fact that the media are quite happy to promote that discourse. As I have said, last month I held an EU nationals surgery. Among the themes was the fear for the future, security of foreign pensions and distrust of the settlement scheme. Those I spoke to genuinely felt like this Government did not want to make them feel welcome, but was instead putting them through a laborious bureaucratic process. I can only share that frustration. What kind of message does it send to someone who has spent their entire life in Scotland, raising their family, working and paying their taxes, to discover that they have fill out a form to qualify to remain in the UK after an unknown deadline—a moving goalpost? Many of those who have felt hounded by the UK Government were desperate for more information about what their rights would be. I am sorry to say that I could provide them with no more clarity about that than most of us in this House can provide about today’s business. If we do not even know what we are doing from one day to the next, what chance do people in general life have to understand?

To return to the point of today’s debate, in Scotland we do not want to see any EU nationals living in our country leave. As a party, the SNP has recognised the valuable contribution of EU nationals to Scotland and to our public services. Ultimately, those public services could collapse and we could lose the rich cultural contributions made by our friends and neighbours, who have come to be a part of our lives and our world, and part of the UK. They should feel welcome here in the UK. The message from the First Minister could not be clearer: we want you to stay in the UK, we value you and we welcome you. I wish to put on record my gratitude, my heartfelt thanks and my appreciation for the contribution made by those of my constituents in Lanark and Hamilton East, and those across the UK. I sincerely hope that they will stay and make Scotland their home.

I understand that I have to hurry up, so I leave hon. Members with this parting thought. Scotland has benefited from the rich diaspora across the UK. We have a rich tapestry, and I would hate to see it lost because of the language and messaging of this country. The Home Office has a responsibility to send a loud and clear message to EU nationals that they deserve to feel and should feel part of the UK, and they should remain and we want them to remain. The Government have to send that message instead of perpetrating the racist language that is ultimately being given through subliminal messaging in the programme of this Government.