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Migration and Scotland

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:35 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Kirsten Oswald Kirsten Oswald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work, Pensions and Inclusion) 6:35 pm, 11th February 2020

After listening to the contributions from Government Members, I have to say that it is a great pity that the UK Government are taking such a careless approach to the Scottish Government’s proposals for a tailored migration system for Scotland. As well as disregarding the need that lies behind the very sensible visa proposals that the Scottish Government have put forward, they are also disregarding the views of the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, among many others.

That matters, because the UK Government are messing with the future of our country when they refuse to consider that all those people who are telling them that their system does not work for Scotland might be right. However, they still continue with their inward-looking Brexit Britain, the ever-more hostile environment and their approach of pulling up the drawbridge. That is not the best way for Scotland and it is no wonder that we see a better future as an open, outward-looking, independent country, but they are determined to plough on down that road, wilfully disregarding the thoughtful and sensible visa proposals that the Scottish Government have put forward to help to deliver the sustainable future that we need in Scotland.

The thing is that we need migration. Scotland is not full. We need people to come and live in Scotland and we want them to come. They are welcome. We need to make sure that we can sustain and grow our population levels, and even if the UK Government do not, we realise how crucial that is to our future.

In Scotland, all our population growth for the next 25 years is projected to come from migration, so it is really beyond unhelpful that the UK Government are rowing back on commitments such as the ones made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who said that when it came to immigration, it would be for the people of Scotland to decide. It is a different story now, so it must have been convenient then for him to say that Nicola Sturgeon’s approach was the right one—as it is—but we are now back to the same old, same old, with the UK Government just expecting us to get on with it and hang with the consequences for Scotland.