As someone who came to Britain from the West Indies with my parents in the 1960s, I watched with astonishment as Joanna Cherry MP demanded at Prime Minister’s Questions this week that Theresa May apologise for questioning the British citizenship of people who had come legally to help rebuild the country after the war.
Apart from the fact that she was too late – other MPs cried out that Mrs May had already apologised – it is the SNP themselves that are the greatest threat to my British citizenship.
“Scotland’s Future”, the Scottish government’s vision of Scotland after separation, states that: “British citizens habitually resident in Scotland on independence will automatically be considered Scottish citizens”. That surely means that irrespective of their wishes they will no longer be British.
It is the SNP who should be apologising to people like me who, because we chose
Scotland as the best place in Britain to live (for more than 40 years in my case), find that their
British citizenship is in
jeopardy. Millions of born Scots, whose ancestors have helped to build Britain since the Act of Union in 1707, are also living in uncertainty.
The nationality issue receives scant attention in the separation debate but should be examined. If the automatic removal of UK citizenship after separation was not applied and people allowed to choose, this could raise the theoretical prospect of a Scotland with nearly half of its residents electing to remain citizens of another country or as dual nationals.
Perhaps this will become crystal clear when the Growth Commission report is eventually published. However, I won’t hold my breath – not least because as we have seen with Brexit, the “leaving” country doesn’t control the agenda. The remaining UK and the EU (if Scotland intends rejoining) would surely have their say.
For the Windrush generation the damage has been done, apologies given, and compensation promised. For the SNP it is not too late to avoid adding years to the type of stress and uncertainty we are experiencing with Brexit.
Mark Openshaw, Cults, Aberdeen