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SNP labels paper a disgrace

Leaked report reveals plan to restrict migrants

Ian Blackford
Ian Blackford: report is a disgrace

UK government plans to limit the number of low-skilled migrants from Europe allowed into the UK after Brexit have prompted criticism from industry and opposition parties.

A leaked Home Office report suggests that new arrangements would be immediately introduced when the UK leaves the EU at the end of the two-year transition period.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called the paper a “disgrace” while a spokesman for the food and drink industry, which uses a lot of causal immigrant labour, said the paper “shows a deep lack of understanding of the vital contribution that EU migrant workers make.”

It is understood the document has not yet been agreed by ministers, but is marked “Draft – Official Sensitive” and is described as “a platform for discussion”.

According to the 82-page document, departure from the EU will mean “the end of rights-based, unconditional free movement”, with the Government adopting powers to take “a more selective approach” to which migrants will be allowed to work and settle in the UK.

“The Government will take a view on the economic and social needs of the country as regards EU migration, rather than leaving this decision entirely to those wishing to come here and employers,” it states.

EU nationals may be required to seek permission before taking up a job, making employers recruit locally first or restrict access to lower-skilled occupations which are not experiencing staffing shortages, according to The Guardian which has obtained a copy of the document.

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: “These leaked proposals are a disgrace – these policies as proposed by the Home Office will effectively break up family units. It only exacerbates the uncertainty already experienced by EU citizens who have chosen to make the UK their home.

“This paper serves to placate the Brexiteers and to further destroy any shred of goodwill with our European partners during a crucial time of the exit negotiations.

“It’s a further example of the UK government’s one-size-fits all approach to immigration which fails to recognise that immigration is essential to the strength of our economy, as well as adds greatly to our cultural fabric.

“The registration of EU nationals will only increase the burden on a Home Office that can’t cope with the current system – as evidenced by the recent episode in which 100 deportation notices were mistakenly sent to EU nationals.

“We have already seen from the ONS figures that the hostile language from the UK Government has had an impact on the levels of EU citizens who want to come here. However these proposals which will cement a hostile environment for immigrants will have untold impact.

“Freedom of movement of labour is particularly important to Scotland, to help address skills gaps and deal with an ageing population. We propose a fair, robust and secure immigration system that meets Scotland’s social and economic needs.”

Ian Wright, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Food and drink manufacturing, Britain’s largest manufacturing sector, will be alarmed by the proposals contained in the document.

“If this does represent the Government’s thinking it shows a deep lack of understanding of the vital contribution that EU migrant workers make – at all skill levels – across the food chain.

“It also undermines the role and creation of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). We will continue to work with Government and MAC to ensure a practical and evidence based way to proceed.” 

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