Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th September 2017.

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Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I agree whole-heartedly with Mr Harvie’s point in his question. At a personal level, I met a week past Saturday representatives of the Polish community in my constituency, and I detected exactly the unease, the anxiety and, frankly, the hurt that are felt by European citizens who have come here and are making their contribution to our society—both to the economy and to our communities, our schools and the lives that we all lead.

I completely accept Mr Harvie’s point. I reassure him that, in the meeting yesterday, I made clear to the First Secretary of State the importance that the Government attaches to being able to give certainty to those individuals, but also to having an approach, once the UK has left the EU, to enabling the free movement of individuals. The substantial contribution that the migrant population has made to our population as a whole and our economy should not be understated by anyone in this debate.

These issues are very much on our agenda. We have tried to seek clarity on every occasion that has been available to us, and I assure Mr Harvie of our determination to make sure that that continues in all further discussions on the question. The joint ministerial committee on EU negotiations, which will take place in October, will be an opportunity for us to engage substantively on the discussions around the United Kingdom’s negotiating position for the longer term. Again, I assure Mr Harvie that that will be a priority for the Government in those negotiations.