Scots propose separate migration plan
Scotland is proposing to go it alone on immigration policy post-Brexit after the release of a report which shows 10 billion pounds would be wiped from the Scottish economy because of lower immigration.
Under the proposal for new post-Brexit immigration system, foreign workers who travel to Scotland would be prevented from moving to other parts of the United Kingdom.
Migrants would be told they must live and work exclusively in Scotland as a “condition of entry” to the United Kingdom, according to proposals published by the Scottish Government on Wednesday.
Scottish External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said there is a need for Scotland to have its own migration policy.
The demographic challenges facing Scotland in the coming decades make the overwhelming case for a regional approach to immigration, according to a discussion paper from the Scottish government.
“The UK government’s policy of pursuing a reduction in net migration to only tens of thousands across the whole UK would be catastrophic for Scotland’s economy and do serious damage to our future prosperity”, Ms Hyslop said in a statement.
The plan calls for limited devolution within the current United Kingdom immigration system and suggests the development of Scottish visas. It says that residence restrictions may be required to prevent migrants from entering Scotland with the intention of relocating elsewhere in the UK.
Under the proposals, Britain’s Home Office would retain overall control over the UK’s borders and immigration enforcement, with employers and public services responsible for checking Scottish migrants’ status and eligibility.
The research concluded that “given the considerable larger negative impact on Scotland’s economy, there is a strong economic case for additional immigration powers in Scotland”.
But the United Kingdom government insisted it would put in place an immigration system that works in the best interests of the whole of the United Kingdom – including Scotland – after the country leaves the EU.
Polling in Scotland shows while most people are in favour maintaining existing migration levels, there is little support for a separate system from the rest of the UK.
A Home Office spokesman said: “After we leave the European Union, we will put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK”.
“Inward migration does not just bring economic benefits”.
The paper also calls for the reintroduction of the post-study work visa, which allowed global students to remain in Scotland and work after graduation but which was ended by the United Kingdom government in 2012, despite having cross-party support in the Scottish parliament.
Scotland voted in a 2016 referendum to stay in the European Union. More populous England, however, voted to leave, partly due to concerns over large-scale immigration from other EU countries.
Prime Minister Theresa May says she aims to cut the numbers of immigrants to the tens of thousands from the present hundreds of thousands.
AMES Australia Senior Journalist