Post-Brexit immigration changes disastrous for Scotland, Minister warns

Rules over immigration being proposed by the UK Government would be 'economically disastrous' for Scotland, MSPs will hear.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Pic: JP

Home Secretary Sajid Javid unveiled plans to re-shape UK immigration policy after Brexit with the publication of a White Paper in December.

It includes moving the UK to a single skills-based system and a consultation on a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for skilled migrants seeking five-year visas.

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But Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s External Affairs Secretary, has warned that if the measures outlined by the document are introduced, Scotland’s future economic growth could be damaged.

Ms Hyslop will address MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday to set out the impact the proposals could have on the country.

“The UK Government’s own assessment of their policy proposals is that up to 85% of future workers who would otherwise have come to Scotland from Europe would no longer be eligible under these new rules,” Ms Hyslop is expected to say.

“The proposals in the UK White Paper would be economically disastrous for the whole of the UK, but most especially for Scotland.

“If the UK Government ever achieved its net migration target, our economic modelling suggests that Scotland’s GDP would be £10.2 billion lower by 2040 than it otherwise would have been.

“Free movement of people within the EU has been of enormous benefit to Scotland. It has allowed people from across Europe to settle here with their families, and play full and vital roles in our economy and as part of our communities.

“The current immigration system does not meet Scotland’s distinct needs and the UK Government’s proposals would be highly damaging.”

Ending the freedom of movement has been a key issue for Brexiteers, but Ms Hyslop reiterated calls for powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament so Holyrood ministers can implement a less limiting immigration system.

Ms Hyslop said: “The Scottish Parliament voted in February 2018 to support calls for appropriate powers for the Parliament, enabling the development of a differentiated, more flexible solution, tailored to meet Scotland’s specific needs.

“There is a growing consensus among Scotland’s business sector, trade unions and other groups of the benefit of a tailored approach to migration and population for Scotland.”