Borders MSP welcomes pitch for new Scottish visa to soften feared blow of Brexit

Borders MSP Christine Grahame is backing proposals for a new Scottish visa in a bid to tackle depopulation and skills gap issues expected to be worsened by Britain’s impending exit from the European Union.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 5:36 pm
Nicola Sturgeon.

Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon suggested such a move today, January 27, saying: “Devolving immigration powers by introducing a Scottish visa would allow Scotland to attract and retain people with the skills and attributes we need for our communities and economy to flourish.”

That proposal is being backed by Ms Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, and she said: “Brexit, and the end of freedom of movement, poses a huge risk to our economy and public services in the Borders.

“It is vital for the Borders’ future prosperity that we continue to attract people to live and work here.

“Migrants make hugely valuable contributions to our economy, public services and communities – and that must continue.

“The one-size-fits-all approach by the UK Government ignores Scotland’s needs and could put our ability to fund public services like the NHS at risk.

“UK Government proposals to end freedom of movement and put in place inappropriate salary and skills requirements for all migrants would be disastrous for our economy and society and would risk acute labour shortages.

“These sensible Scottish Government proposals, in line with other regional migration systems such as in Canada and Australia, would give us the ability to create a system which secures the future prosperity of the Borders.

“If the UK Government refuse to deliver that plan, it will yet again underline the urgent need for Scotland to take these decisions for ourselves.”

Making her pitch for the new visa, Ms Sturgeon added: “Migration to Scotland supports economic growth and the delivery of public services and helps to address the serious issue of long-term demographic change, as well as enhancing and sustaining our communities, yet the latest proposals from the UK Government to control immigration and end freedom of movement would be disastrous for our economy and society and would risk acute labour shortages.

“Migration is an issue which is crucial for our future, but the Scottish Government doesn’t currently have the powers needed to deliver tailored immigration policies for Scotland.”