Nicola Sturgeon: EU citizens will always be welcome in Scotland

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Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to European citizens living in Scotland they will "always be welcome".

With the UK's departure from the EU potentially now less than a week away, the First Minister has written a third letter to the 221,000 people from the EU who have made their home in Scotland.

The First Minister has written a third letter to the 221,000 people from the EU who have made their home in Scotland. Picture:PA

The First Minister has written a third letter to the 221,000 people from the EU who have made their home in Scotland. Picture:PA

The latest open letter seeks to assure them that "amidst the continued uncertainty" of Brexit her message has not changed.

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She told them: "Scotland values you for the contribution you make to our society, our culture and our economy.

"Whether you have lived here for months or many years, Scotland is your home, you are welcome here and we want you to stay."

The First Minister added: "I am deeply proud that you chose to make Scotland your home and will do everything in my power to ensure you can stay.

"You will always be welcome here."

'Emotional impact'

Ms Sturgeon told European citizens she appreciated having to apply for settled status to remain in the UK after Brexit could have an "emotional impact" but urged people to fill in the forms before the deadline.

People living in the UK have until July 31 2021 to apply for this - or until December 31 2020 if no deal is reached.

Ms Sturgeon added: "The Scottish Government will continue to call on the UK Government to do more to recognise the rights of EU citizens and to guarantee them in law."

While the UK Parliament has not yet ratified Boris Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the Prime Minister has insisted his policy is still to quit the EU on October 31.

But with MPs having voted against an accelerated timetable for the Bill, the legislation is now in limbo, with the remaining EU nations considering if there should be another extension to the Brexit deadline.

The PM has threatened to pull the legislation and seek a general extension if the UK's departure date is delayed further.
Ms Sturgeon said on Wednesday she would be "very happy" for there to be a Westminster election before Christmas if the threat of a no-deal Brexit was removed.