Nicola Sturgeon has condemned Boris Johnson for resorting to "despicable, dog whistle politics" after the Prime Minister claimed that EU migrants had been able to treat the UK as their own country for too long.
Reprising the core message of Vote Leave’s 2016 EU referendum campaign, Boris Johnson said that migration would fall under his plan for an Australian-style points based system after the UK left the EU.
In a TV interview yesterday, Mr Johnson said: "What we want to do is bear down on migration, particularly of unskilled workers who have no job to come to, and I think that's what's happened over the last couple of decades or more.
"You've seen quite a large number of people coming in from the EU able to treat the UK as though it's basically part of their own country, and the problem therte is there has been no control at all and I don't think that is democratically accountable."
In a message posted on social media, the First Minister said: "I hope that migrants who have chosen to live in and make a contribution to Scotland do feel like it is their country - their home in other words - because it is. Really despicable, dog whistle politics to suggest otherwise."
Speaking on her campaign bus after a stop in Coatbridge today, she added: “That kind of rhetoric - and the underlying attitude of the Tories towards immigration - is one of the many reasons why they should not be elected on Thursday.
“We know from our own population projections that Scotland has to be able to attract people from other countries if we are to keep our working age population growing, contributing the tax revenues that then allow us to support our NHS and other public services.
“So this is a really important issue and I think it is really despicable that we’ve got Boris Johnson indulging in this anti-immigration rhetoric.”
Ms Sturgeon was touring three marginal seats in Lanarkshire. Ahead of the visit, she said: “Whatever your traditional party colours there is only one way, across Scotland, to defeat Boris Johnson and that is to vote SNP. This election is too important to let traditional party politics get in the way of stopping Boris Johnson getting into number 10.
“We know that in the 13 Tory held seats across the country, every SNP vote will count when it comes to getting the Tories out of office, and stopping Boris Johnson becoming prime minister.
“When the Tories have majorities Scotland always pays a heavy price. In the 1980s they decimated our industries, in the last decade they imposed crippling cuts on public spending and pushed thousands of Scots into poverty.
"This time Boris Johnson threatens to take us out of Europe in just eight weeks at a cost of thousands of jobs and putting our precious NHS at risk, threatening the work Scotland is doing to deliver better health care free at the point of need."
Coatbridge, the first stop on Ms Sturgeon's itinerary, is being defended by Labour with a majority of 1,586, while the adjacent constituency of Rutherglen and Hamilton West has a Labour majority of just 265.