Fiona Hyslop: Confirm status of EU citizens working in Scotland

Fiona Hyslop visits the Big Noise centre in Govanhill. Picture: John Devlin.
Fiona Hyslop visits the Big Noise centre in Govanhill. Picture: John Devlin.
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The Scottish Government is to again call on ministers in London to “urgently confirm” the status of European citizens working in Scotland.

Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop will make the plea at the same time as warning of the “extremely damaging consequences” the vote for Brexit could have on Scotland’s tourism sector.

Since 2015, almost 1,000 small and medium-sized tourism businesses have directly benefited from £7.8 million in European Regional Development funding, the Scottish Government said.

The UK vote to leave the European Union (EU) has cast doubt over future funding for the sector - which also employs some 21,000 EU citizens across Scotland.

Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s Holyrood debate, Ms Hyslop said: “The threat of a hard Brexit with no protection for the EU nationals currently living and working in Scotland, coupled with uncertainty around the potential to attract EU funding, could have extremely damaging consequences for our tourism and hospitality industries.

“That is why the UK Government must urgently confirm what the immigration status of our EU nationals will be once the UK leaves the EU, and why the Scottish Government will do everything we can to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, retain free movement of people and stay in the single market.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “One of the critical issues for industry is the potential changes to the free movement of people which will directly affect the sector’s ability to attract, employ and retain overseas staff, both seasonal and permanent.

“EU migrant workers are a vital part of the tourism sector and we welcome and value their contribution to what is the most important industry in Scotland.”

Willie MacLeod, executive director of the British Hospitality Association Willie, stated: “The Government needs to ensure that the UK is perceived to be open for business and welcomes visitors.

“Non-UK staff working in tourism must be reassured that they remain welcome and that their contribution is valued.”