Post-Brexit immigration plans would be ‘devastating’ for Scottish economy, Sturgeon says

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has slammed new UK government immigration plans just weeks after calling for a ‘Scottish visa’ to give Holyrood’s parliament powers to tackle a falling birth rate and ageing population.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Sturgeon branded London’s plans “devastating” for Scotland’s economy and said that demographics show the country will “need to keep attracting people” from abroad. She said having more control over immigration is “now a necessity” for future prosperity.

Under the new scheme, which Downing Street said will give the UK “full control” of its borders “for the first time in decades,” Britain will close its doors to non-English speakers and “unskilled workers.” The new policy also states that any person wanting to move to the UK must have a job offer with a salary of no less than £25,600, unless the worker falls into a skills shortage category, in which case the salary ‘floor’ will be £20,480.

Sturgeon’s previous call for a ‘Scottish visa’ was instantly rejected by the Home Office three weeks ago with a statement saying immigration “will remain a reserved matter.” 

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

Yet, the first minister is not alone in her desire for greater control over Scotland’s foreign workforce. London’s plans have been branded “the biggest threat to Scotland’s tourism industry” by Marc Crothall, the chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance. Crothall said the plans would have a major impact on rural Scotland and some “very fragile” areas of the economy. Sturgeon’s appeal for a special visa was also echoed by James Withers, the chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, who told the Guardian that a Scottish visa “may be essential now.”

Sturgeon’s critics have suggested that her insistence on separate immigration rules for Scotland is a plot to move toward ultimate independence from London, but Scotland’s economy is undeniably heavily dependent on foreign workers and a number of industry bodies are worried about the impact of the post-Brexit plans.

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PM Boris Johnson also recently rejected Sturgeon’s request for a second Scottish independence referendum, a move which journalist Neil Clark told RT may only galvanize support for independence and put Sturgeon under pressure to “do a Catalonia” and hold a referendum without permission from London.

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