A new report commissioned by the SNP has been published from a team of lawyers who are experts in immigration law. The report tells us that it’s entirely possible for Scotland to have a distinct migration regime within the UK and to continue to allow freedom of movement for EU citizens. The report notes that freedom of movement is permitted by the Immigration Act of 1971 which will be amended by the Immigration Bill 2020. The new bill will, when enacted, remove the right of freedom of movement from EU citizens. However the lawyers point out that an amendment to the bill could allow freedom of movement for EU citizens to continue in Scotland meaning that, as now, EU citizens could move to Scotland and seek work here without an immigration document, instead continuing to use their EU passport to do so.
Sadly retaining freedom of movement for EU citizens in Scotland wouldn’t protect freedom of movement for Scottish residents in the rest of the EU, that gemme is a bogey thanks to Brexit. However it would protect important sectors of the Scottish economy which depend upon migrant labour in order to function, and which helps to ameliorate the ageing population structure of Scotland. We live in a state which thinks that bleeding off Scotland’s young people for opportunities in London and the South East is a “union benefit”, Scotland needs some means of remedying that. Freedom of movement has been an immense assistance to Scotland’s economic potential. The report points out that it’s possible to retain it even after Brexit.
In the report on the development published in the Financial Times, there was the unwittingly revealing phrase “migrants willing to commit to living north of the English border”. It’s a phrase which tells us on this side of that border a great deal about how we’re perceived by the metrocommentariat in London. We’re somewhere far away, distant, and living here is some sort of huge sacrifice. It’s one thing to live in Scotland if you’re one of the benighted natives, who clearly don’t know any better in their parochial tartanry. It’s quite another to willingly seek it out. There’s more than a note of incredulity that anyone might find living in Scotland – so far away from London and the centre of the Angloverse – an attractive prospect.
Still, we should at least be grateful that the Financial Times bothered to tell us about the publication of the report. The Scottish tabloids have ignored it, with the exception of the increasingly hysterical Express which tells us of an SNP plot to bypass Boris Johnson like that was a bad thing. The Express is so shrill these days that if you were to read one of their SNP bad stories aloud it would be at a frequency above that which can be detected by human ears. Which would be a blessing, come to think of it. Perhaps we should start campaigning for the Express to go audio only and then no one would ever have to listen to it ever again. Although the plan would likely founder on the impossibility of providing an audio version of the publication’s RANDOM capitalisation. From the BBC, well, you know the story. Or rather you don’t because at the time of writing this blog article it still doesn’t appear anywhere on the BBC.
The framing of the suggestion in the Financial Times speaks volumes about the arrogant attitude which underpins the UK government’s dismissal of any suggestions that Scotland within the UK might have a different immigration regime from the rest of the UK. The likes of Boris Johnson are unable to comprehend any movement into any part of the UK which doesn’t have coming to live in London as its eventual goal. Migration into Scotland in their view would simply be a means of circumventing rules which apply to England, because clearly no one in their right mind would actively seek to live in Scotland, would they? Although given the outbreak of infighting and rampant egos within certain sections of the independence movement recently, you could be forgiven for starting to sympathise with that point of view.
It’s a simple administrative procedure to give EU migrants to Scotland a tax code and NI number which is Scotland specific and which would not entitle them to live and work in the rest of the UK. Allowing freedom of movement for EU citizens into Scotland would not make the slightest bit of difference to illegal immigration into the rest of the UK. Under current plans, EU citizens will still be allowed to travel to and visit the rest of the UK without having to apply for a visa in advance. If they want to live as illegal migrants in England, they’ll be able to do so without going to the bother of coming to live in Scotland first. Boris Johnson and the Scottish Tories have an inability to grasp this basic and simple concept. That’s because their jobs depend upon not understanding it. There are few certainties in Scottish politics, except that the Scottish Conservatives will be silent whenever their pals in Westminster damage Scotland’s interests, and the media will seek some SNP bad angle to spin on it.
The Tories aren’t prepared to consider a different immigration regime for Scotland within the UK, so it’s a non-starter. The fiasco of the Conservatives’ changes to immigration policy tells us all we need to know about the way in which the UK is incapable of meeting Scotland’s needs. Scotland’s economy is to be trashed because it’s far more important to the Conservatives that they send a political message to their support base in England. You know, the kind of people who go on Question Time to rant about immigrants and who read the Express and nod along in AGREEMENT with the random CAPITALISATION in reports about PATRIOTIC breakfasts. Racism runs deep within the Conservatives. A Scottish Conservative recently told a French born SNP politician to go back to where he came from.
The economic prospects of Scotland are less important to this Conservative government than pandering to a racist rant on Question Time and the constant flood of racist scare stories in the right wing press. We need independence because that’s the only way in which Scotland will get a government which has Scotland’s needs and interests as its sole priority. Ensuring that happens ought to be our first priority.
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