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European Union Citizens’ Rights

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 12th November 2019.

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Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I am delighted to speak in today’s debate. I begin by reiterating what many of my colleagues and friends have said before me: we in Scotland did not vote to leave the European Union, and we certainly do not wish to see our European friends and neighbours leave our shores.

It is undisputed that EU migrants have a positive effect on the Scottish economy. They help to drive our population growth and ensure that we have workers to meet the needs of businesses and the public sector. From the get-go, the Scottish Government has been committed to protecting the rights of EU citizens who live and work in our country.

I often think to myself about how those families must feel with all the current uncertainty that is coming from Westminster, and how I would feel if I were in a similar situation, with the uncertainty and fear of what might come. They have chosen Scotland as their home, and we want them to remain here. They need our support during these uncertain times.

That brings me to today’s contributions. Donald Cameron said that he agreed with most of what the minister said in his opening remarks. Donald Cameron might be a jolly nice bloke, and he might be easy to get on with: I do not know him, myself. However, at the end the day, his speech and its tone were somewhat disappointing. He used language that I would not have used in dealing with, and talking about, the families and individuals who are worrying about what is happening.

It strikes me, as always, that Conservative members must stop being the apologists that they have consistently been for the circus that is the UK Government. The UK Government is being laughed at worldwide because of the Brexit situation. The Conservatives have no idea what EU families are going through, and they still defend the morally bankrupt UK Government. Tory after Tory has said how important EU citizens are to Scotland: I agree with them and ask only that they stop bumping their gums in here and instead speak to the ringmaster general, Boris Johnson, to tell him exactly what they think.

The difference between us and them in the whole thing over the past three years has been that since the referendum, I and my SNP colleagues have waxed lyrical about the disgrace that is the Brexit process. It does not look as though a light will appear at the end of the tunnel any time soon: I sometimes wonder whether there are any lights left on at Westminster.