As British PM Theresa May presses ahead with a hard Brexit and a retreat from the single market, Scotland said on Monday (3 April) that its distinct demographic trends require powers over immigration to support public services and the economy.
The Scottish government predicts that 90% of the population increase in Scotland over the next decade will come from net migration, both from international migration and from the rest of the UK.
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce identified Scotland’s lower population growth rate as a reason why Scotland must have a distinct migration system.
According to a ScotCen survey published this week, 61% of people in Scotland support continued freedom of movement to protect the country’s single market membership.
“Population growth is vital for the health of Scotland’s economy and public services – but the UK government is determined to close the door on the workers our economy depends on,” said Stuart McMillan from the Scottish National Party (SNP).
“The Leave campaign said that Brexit would mean Scotland would get powers over immigration – but that promise has been left on the £350m-a-week-for-the-NHS bus,” he added.
The Scottish government announced last month a new independence vote, three years after one in which Scots voted to stay – to be held before Britain leaves the EU in 2019.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has long warned that largely pro-European Scotland would not accept a damaging break with the EU and today (13 March) she made good on her threat.
May urged Scotland not to go for another referendum during a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon last week.
She accused the SNP of “divisive and obsessive nationalism” and defended the “precious, precious union” of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
“Polls consistently show that people in Scotland support freedom of movement as part of our membership of the single market. This is yet another example of why Scotland needs the power to determine our own future – and why the people of Scotland should be given the choice between Brexit and independence,” added McMillan.
In an interview with EURACTIV’s partner Gazeta Wyborcza, Alasdair Allan is the Scottish government’s Minister for International Development and Europe, said that Scotland was better off without Britain.