With the UK Government’s Brexit White Paper being published last week, personally, I have a lot of thoughts on it. Especially section 5.
Immigration, is an issue which lies very close to my heart, having immigrated to Scotland 11 years ago.
Immigration is always on political agenda, whether it is in terms of Brexit, where Theresa May and her colleagues discuss in what way it is best to strip immigrants off their basic rights in Westminster, or celebrating the contributions immigrants make to Scotland in Holyrood. People talk about immigration on a daily basis, the positives, and the direct negatives.
“We welcome the contribution that migrants have brought and will continue to bring to our economy and society. That is why we will always want immigration, including from EU countries, and especially high-skilled immigration and why we will always welcome individual migrants arriving lawfully in the UK as friends.” This is a snippet of the Brexit White Paper.
At first glance, my initial thought was ‘wit?’. The UK’s immigration policies are nothing but dehumanising, we have a narrative regarding immigration that is overwhelmingly defined by the political conservative right. While non-EU nationals have remained a fairly stable percentage of the population as a whole, EU nationals are making up an increased proportion. This is due to the freedom of movement rules between EU member states, which has benefited so many lives, like mine, granting them a new, exciting life filled with so many opportunities for the future. The UK Government wants to take that away; never has an administration focused so much on an anti-migration policy. The statement which reads “In future, therefore, the Free Movement Directive will no longer apply and the migration of EU nationals will be subject to UK law.” is a worrying one, as the Free Movement is SO beneficial to many lives, and to take this away, is obnoxious.
The White Paper states that the “sheer volume has given rise to public concern about pressure on public services, like schools and our infrastructure, especially housing, as well as placing downward pressure on wages for people on the lowest incomes.” With EU nationals contributing
If Scotland accepts the Conservative parties disgusting immigration target (which it won’t), the number of people working and paying taxes here will fall. The immigration policy of the UK Government should not be imposed on Scotland, and immigrants like me who came here for a better life. As FM Nicola Sturgeon stated at Annual Conference last year, after I proposed a motion to devolve immigration to the Scottish Parliament, “a Scottish policy that meets Scotland’s needs and lives up to Scotland’s values must take its place.” The time to have our own immigration policy is way overdue, we need to be in control of the decisions which matter the most to people who contribute so much to the Scottish economy. According to 2015/2016 studies, EU nationals born outside of the UK contribute £1.6 billion annually. The number of EU nationals studying in Scotland is also a number which is moderately high, at 13,312 citizens of other European countries studying at Higher Education Institutions across Scotland in the 2014/15 academic year.
So without a doubt, it is accurate to state that with the current political climate, in the midst of Brexit, with the Brexit White Paper, and the ignorance of Theresa May and her pals - immigrants are getting left to deal with it all themselves. A test and a fee - not what we were promised at the beginning of the negotiations, when it was stated we’d be treated just like any other British citizen. Brexit shambles continues, and the uncertainty which migrants feel also stays established. Not an idea about the future, not an idea about the present.
With the SNP continuing to stand up for immigrant rights, I believe that we have a bright future ahead of us, outside of this Brexit shambles, and outside of the UK, but inside an inclusive EU, where Free Movement is a valued right for everyone.