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European Union Exit

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

Yes—of all the things that the Tories presently boast about, the boast that they have ended freedom of movement is among the most horrible and self-defeating. Freedom of movement is immensely beneficial to Scotland, and to rural Scotland in particular.

In my constituency, freedom of movement is vital as a means of trying to stem the rise of depopulation and the difficulties that we have. This deal will continue to drive EU citizens out of Scotland, and it will act as a disincentive for EU citizens to come to Scotland.

Last Friday, I was speaking at the NFU Scotland autumn conference. There were farmers there, from the east coast in particular, who are involved in fruit farming; they have seen part of their crop rot on the bushes this year. In England, part of the apple crop has rotted on the trees this year because of a shortage of labour. That will only get worse.

Supporting the end of freedom of movement is bad for incoming labour, and it is really bad for people who want to go elsewhere. This morning, I recorded a brief message for a Scottish lady who is a teaching assistant in the south of France. I did it on the basis of supporting what she is doing so that her class could also understand that Scotland is keen to continue that type of exchange rather than making it more difficult.