Freedom of movement ‘could be retained in Scotland’ post-Brexit

Freedom of movement could be retained in Scotland even after new post-Brexit immigration rules come into place across the rest of the UK, a report commissioned by the SNP has suggested.

Immigration experts at the Fragomen legal firm said it would be “be entirely possible to maintain the free movement rights of European citizens in Scotland”.

It also said “emergency visa measures” could be introduced north of the border to deal with “immediate economic threat associated with Brexit”.

The report claimed the Scottish Government could negotiate a time-limited regional visa arrangement with the Home Office as short-term measure.

Pro-EU demonstrators campaign outside the Scottish Parliament on Brexit Day last month

“It would be an extraordinary measure to meet exceptional need,” the report said.

It stressed Scotland is “more reliant on migration than the rest of the UK to maintain population growth and to support the national economy”.

Over recent years, only an “extremely small proportion” of the hundreds of thousands of people moving to and from the UK have come to Scotland, with figures showing between 2013 and 2018 migration boosted the country’s population by an average of about 13,000 a year.

The UK Government has so far refused requests for more powers over migration to be devolved to Scotland, including a call earlier this year for a Scottish visa to be established.

While the Conservative administration at Westminster proposes a new points-based immigration system for the UK and the end of freedom of movement, the report said in “policy terms it would be entirely possible” for free movement to be retained in Scotland alone.

Scotland keeping the free movement of people is one of 11 policy options included in the report - with others suggesting the salary threshold for people seeking to come to work could be lower than in the rest of the UK.

It also suggested introducing more flexible visa quotas for Scotland, allowing the Scottish Government to sponsor migrants using an annual quota of visas granted by the UK Government, over and above those people coming with a job offer whose visa would be sponsored by their employer.

systems elsewhere in the world.

Migration minister Ben Macpherson said: “This research offers yet more evidence that a tailored approach to migration for Scotland is necessary and could work within the UK immigration system.

“As the report shows, Scotland relies on migration and the UK Government’s most recent proposals do not provide adequate solutions for our needs in the short, medium or long-term.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “Our new points-based immigration system will work in the interests of the whole of the UK.

“We will continue to work with stakeholders in Scotland to ensure the new proposals work for all sectors.”


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