Boris Johnson blasts SNP's Scottish visa plan as 'deranged' at PMQs
Calls for powers over immigrationt to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament dominated Prime Minister’s Questions, with Boris Johnson claiming a separate Scottish visa would lead to a “wall [and] inspection posts” at the border between Scotland and England.
Downing Street maintains that immigration should stay a reserved matter, and a major review of migration policy by the independent Migration Advisory Committee said there should not be a separate earnings threshold applied in Scotland for skilled migrants to be allowed into the UK.
Six SNP MPs took on the Prime Minister over the issue, led by Carol Monaghan, who compared the UK’s response to the refugee crisis in Europe with its actions during World War Two.
“Monday was Holocaust Memorial Day, when we remember those who suffered under Nazi persecution,” she said.
“During this dark time, Britain stood out as a beacon of hope and 10,000 Jewish children came here with the Kindertransport.
“When his government rejected Lord Dubs’ amendment on unaccompanied child refugees, Britain’s beacon dimmed.
“Will the Prime Minister now devolve powers over immigration to Holyrood to allow Scotland to be that beacon of hope?”
Wall and inspection posts
The Prime Minister said Ms Monaghan was doing “a disservice to this country’s reputation and its record” on taking in refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.
The SNP’s Westminster leader tried to catch the Prime Minister out over the Scottish Government’s visa plan, saying that “before the ink was even dry, these proposals were rejected without consideration” and asking Mr Johnson to respond to a specific page.
“I have every sympathy with the businesses and industries of Scotland that need to allow workers to come freely, as with the seasonal agricultural worker scheme that we have doubled,” the Prime Minister said.
“But I think the idea of having a Scottish-only visa with a border at Berwick and a wall, inspection posts - I think this is absolutely fanciful and deranged.
“And whatever they may be on page 20 of his document, I doubt if it explains who is going to pay for it.”
The MAC report looked at several countries that operate a similar points-based immigration system to the one the UK Government says it wants to introduce after Brexit - including Canada, where individual provinces can influence the criteria for admitting migrants.
Mr Johnson also attacked the Scottish Government for seeking a debate at Holyrood over whether the European flag continues to fly outside the Scottish Parliament after the UK leaves the EU.
“The SNP have not had a debate in their parliament on education for two years,” The Prime Minister said.
“What are they debating today? Whether or not to fly the EU flag. They should get on with the day job.”
The last debate on education in the Scottish Parliament took place two weeks ago, led by the Scottish Conservatives.