A FUTURE Labour government would consider building border posts between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK, Ed Miliband has warned.
The prospect of higher immigration in Scotland after a Yes vote, a key SNP government policy, means that a stricter approach to border controls “stands to reason”, the Labour leader said during a visit to Scotland yesterday. But the claims were branded “scaremongering” by Nationalists who insist Scotland would remain part of the same free travel area as the Irish Republic, which has no border with the UK.
Mr Miliband took to the referendum campaign trail in Scotland yesterday when he accused the SNP of “banking” on the looming prospect of a Conservative victory in next year’s UK election to drive Scots to vote forindependence on 18 September.
He used his visit to Scotland to urge Scots to back Labour as the “progressive choice” to change theentire UK, with plans to extenddevolution across English local authorities also set out by Mr Miliband.
The SNP wants to increaseimmigration by 2,000 to 24,000 a year after independence, but the UK government wants to drive this down.
This has prompted warnings that border checks may be necessary to stop immigrants travelling on to what remains of the UK.
Mr Miliband said: “It’scertainly the case that we would have to have a look at the issue of a border if we’ve got differentimmigration policies. It totally stands to reason. If you have markedly different immigration policies, that becomes an issue between Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
Scotland’s ageing population means that an increase inimmigration is needed toensure there are enough workerspaying taxes to fund the cost of state pensions.
The Labour leader had earlier addressed an audience of party activists and civic Scotlandrepresentatives in Edinburgh to insist Labour, not the SNP, is the progressive choice for Scots.
“By saying No in the referendum, the people of Scotland can say Yes to the campaign to change Britain as a whole,” Mr Miliband said.
He went on: “It is interesting that our opponents in the referendum campaign aretrying to bank on the people (the Tories) that they say theyreally hate, having a recovery. That says something to you about the state of their argument versus the state of ourargument.”
Mr Miliband also said his party would set out its plans for greater devolution across the UK to local councils, helping to“restore the great cities of our country as the great powerhouses of our economy”.
He added: “We can learn from the successes of devolution here in Scotland.
“It is going to be different in different parts of the country, but changing the way we are governed is fundamentallyimportant to me.”
The Labour leader said there was “deep discontent” across the country, with people “crying out” for economic change.
He added that “in the face of an economy that doesn’t work and a politics that is broken, some people might be tempted to vote Yes” in September’sreferendum.
But Mr Milibandinsisted: “There is another,better way of changing things. Our mission: economic andsocial change.” The magnitude of the decisionfacing voters in September was also underlined by the Labour leader.
“This is not just a defining referendum campaign for Scotland, it’s a defining moment and defining election for the UK as a whole,” he said. “When people look back at this period, they will see it as significant as 1945 or 1979.”
But Mr Miliband’s claims of a Scotland-England border were branded “extreme and absurd” scaremongering by the SNP, who say Scotland will continue to be part of the open-border “common travel area” with the rest of the UK.
This includes the Irish Republic, which has no border checks with Northern Ireland.
Nationalist MSP Stewart Maxwell said: “Is Mr Miliband seriously suggesting that he wants border controls with Scotland, while maintaining the common travel area and no border controls with Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands? The No campaign’s ‘Project Fear’ truly has become Project Farce.
“A re-elected Tory government is a clear and presentdanger for Scotland – and the only way to ensure that theTories never again get to govern Scotland, when their support here is rock bottom, is to vote Yes for independence.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “An independent Scotland will continue to be a member of the current common travel area with the rest of the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, so there will be no need for border checks between anindependent Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“The common travel areaalready allows for different and independent immigration policies within it.
“This flexibility will enable us to implement our own design for a controlled and more flexible immigration system.”