Comment on Scottish White Paper - Scottish Immigration Proposals Unsound and Unacceptable

December 02, 2013

The proposals in the Scottish White Paper issued on 26 November are unsound for Scotland and unacceptable to the rest of the UK.  They would provide a barn door to England.  That is the conclusion of a study released today by Migration Watch UK.

The White Paper starts with the assertion that one of the major gains from independence for Scotland will be responsibility for immigration policy. It claims that Scotland has a different need for immigration which the current Westminster government have not supported.  In fact, immigrants have been entirely free to go to Scotland but have chosen not to.  Nevertheless, the authors clearly harbour ambitions for a very different immigration policy, one which threatens the integrity of border controls in the rest of the UK.

The proposals themselves have a number of serious weaknesses:

  1. They assume that Scotland will not have to negotiate membership of the EU and, in particular, that Scotland can maintain the UKs opt-out from the Schengen area of free movement.
  2. They further assume that the rest of the UK will be content to maintain the existing Common Travel Area despite their declared intention to adopt a much more “liberal” immigration policy. 
  3. They also fail to explain how immigrants admitted to Scotland can be prevented from moving on to England where wages are higher and where large immigrant communities already live.  The present proposals would mean that Scottish officials would issue visas that effectively permitted free movement to England. 
  4. The proposals for looser conditions on asylum could lead to a significant inflow of asylum seekers as, for example, Sweden has found. 

Commenting on the White Paper, Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said “These proposals are unsound and, indeed, unnecessary for Scotland.  They are also likely to be non-negotiable both with the European Union and with the government in London.  This would not just be a back-door to the rest of the UK; it would be a barn door.  No government in London could possibly accept that.  Scotland must either have an immigration policy consistent with other members of the Common Travel Area or they must accept immigration controls at the border.   This must be a red line in any future negotiations on Scottish independence.   We cannot afford to sleep walk into the destruction of our border controls”. 

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