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27 Jan, 2020 14:05

Sturgeon pushes for ‘Scottish visa,’ Home Office swiftly dismisses proposal

Sturgeon pushes for ‘Scottish visa,’ Home Office swiftly dismisses proposal

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched plans for a ‘Scottish visa’ to wrest some control over migration in the country away from Westminster as the rift between Johnson’s government and the SNP grows.

Immigration is not currently a devolved area of government and the SNP has long called for Scotland to have greater control over handling its own migration issues, particularly given concerns about the country’s ageing workforce and Brexit. Current EU freedom of movement rights are expected to expire when the UK leaves the bloc, with the British government saying they’ll introduce a points-based system instead by January 2021. 

“Residence in Scotland and maintaining a Scottish tax code would be a requirement for such a visa,” the Scottish government said in a statement launching the proposals for workers coming into the country. It added that the policy is “designed to work with devolution” but could be adapted “should Scotland become independent in future.”

The Home Office, however, was quick to reject the proposals outright, with a spokesperson saying: “Immigration will remain a reserved matter.”

The move is just the latest in ongoing tensions between Scotland's government and Westminster. Sturgeon and PM Boris Johnson were recently locked in a war of words over the latter’s refusal to consider a second Scottish independence referendum, claiming it “would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade.” Sturgeon has warned that Scotland cannot be forced to remain in the United Kingdom “against its will,” however Johnson dismissed her push for a new referendum by countering that the 2014 poll had been pledged as a “once-in-a-generation vote.”

The ‘Scottish Visa’ proposal hasn’t been met with a particularly warm welcome online, with many Twitter commenters wondering how such a plan can even be raised given that migration control sits firmly in Westminster. 

Others questioned how the border between Scotland and England would be managed if they each had their own migration systems. “The only way this would work would be for Scotland to have border controls between it and the rest of the UK,” one said.

A number of people suggested it indicates some level of admission by Sturgeon that Scottish independence is not likely in the short-term.

“The entire premise of the Scottish Government visa proposals is based on devolution, not independence,” one Twitter user said. “A clear sign the SNP know there will be no indyref for quite some time.”

Some though were quick to praise the proposal as “sensible and necessary” for Scotland and its particular needs, with the potential to become a “real game changer” for the country’s economy. 

Also on rt.com London rejects Scotland’s request for second independence referendum

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