Leaders: Common sense dictates a relaxation of the rules

The Brains, pictured with Nicola Sturgeon, have been asked to leave the UK. Picture: PA
The Brains, pictured with Nicola Sturgeon, have been asked to leave the UK. Picture: PA
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The issues surrounding the Brain family remaining in Scotland need to be looked at with a pragmatic, not a political, eye

Immigration has become one of the big political issues of recent times and was probably the biggest and most contentious issue in the Brexit campaign.

This thorny issue is being fuelled by the immigration crisis hitting Europe as millions of refugees and economic migrants flee war-torn countries like Syria and Libya and others leave countries where the economic outlook is bleak.

As former Prime Minister David Cameron found out, failure to address concerns about “mass migration”, and the perceived knock-on effect on housing, schools and health services among those in communities where such resources are under pressure, was an error of the highest magnitude.

The Brain family, who are battling to remain in Scotland after moving here from Australia, would not have attracted so much publicity had their particular plight occurred at any other time.

But they have also become political currency because they embody the difference between UK immigration needs and Scottish immigration needs and as such have been seized on as a cause celebre by the SNP.

Pictures appeared of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hugging seven-year-old Lachlan Brain, who has been schooled in Gaelic, as his parents took their case to the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Sturgeon vowed that the Scottish Government would do everything in its power to give Gregg and Kathryn Brain more time to remain in their adoptive home in Dingwall in Ross-shire so that they would have the time to find appropriate jobs which fit visa requirements.

The immigration needs and fears of the rest of the UK are different from those of Scotland. We need immigrants and the Brains are being used as the human faces of that difference.

Scotland needs people coming into the country to help build its economy and to build its population, because without immigrants our population would be in decline and that has serious economic consequences.

Of course there have to be rules concerning immigration, but any reasonable person looking at this particular situation would decide that the greater benefit lies in allowing the Brain family to remain in Scotland.

The Brains believed they could come here on a student visa and that they would get an automatic post-study visa, but that facility was withdrawn for all by the UK government. The family say they only became aware of that after they had arrived here.

The restrictions on the type of work required under the two-tier system are very strict and limiting.

In the circumstances of this case the reasonable course of action is to relax those employment restrictions for a temporary period so they can stay without them being a burden on the state until a skilled and better job comes up.

For a family who have put so much effort into their lives in Scotland it hardly seems to be logical or humane to force them to leave the country now.

Armed police can only do so much

The sight of armed police patrolling our streets is something we might find reassuring. That officers trained to handle a weapon are on hand to offer protection from a possible terrorist attack could be seen as visceral and calming while being a deterrent to those who aim to destabilise and create panic.

With the dreadful terrorist attacks in Europe still fresh in everyone’s minds, the announcement by the Metropolitan Police commissioner and the London Mayor that more firearms officers are being deployed on London’s streets seemed an obvious response.

But will more armed officers deter attackers? Not as much as we might hope.

It is not always the case that more armed police will mean that such officers will be on the scene of a terrorist incident quickly. Even if they arrived almost immediately after the emergency call is received, the best that can be hoped for is a reduction in the numbers of innocent people killed or wounded.

The Metropolitan Police commissioner and the London Mayor said these extra officers will also be seen at some of London’s most famous landmarks.

It is possible there could be an attack at any of these locations but more armed officers will only mean such incidents will be closed down more quickly than before rather than being prevented from happening.

Thus the true value is that more lives should be saved, and that is probably, given the nature of terrorist operations, the best that can be hoped for. This is really a show to reassure the public and should be welcomed for that. We have known for some time that our world will change, and this is a visible sign of that inevitable consequence.