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That is a very interesting question, and I look forward to hearing the reasons offered by the UK Government. Hopefully, having listened today to the case that the Scottish Government and my hon. Friends have made, Ministers will open their eyes and at least engage constructively with our proposals.
Against the background that I have described, surely no one in the House can seriously suggest that if changes were being made to the immigration system for Scotland alone, the policy goal would be a reduction in the modest but sustainable levels of migration that we have seen in recent years. Analysis shows that any such reductions in levels of EU migration will make all those trends worse, and will risk a decline in both Scotland’s working-age population and the overall population.
As my right hon. Friend Ian Blackford has pointed out, it cannot be overstated that all this has huge implications for economic growth, for GDP, for GDP per head, for our tax base and public finances, and for our economy and our society. Yes, we need the very highly qualified and well paid, but we also need those who are making an immense contribution to our country and economy but are not earning £25,000, whether they are in the care sector or the tourism industry, are starting out in research, or are working in food and drink, agriculture or retail, or many other sectors of our economy.