Toxic Tory immigration policy drags Scotland down and leaves us poorer

There are now just 25 days left until the UK is due to crash out of the European Union on March 29 – dragging Scotland down with it.

Every day, we find out more worrying information about the devastating impact Theresa May’s botched Brexit deal would have on ­Scotland – with mounting evidence of the lasting harm it would inflict on our economy, public services and living standards.

On Thursday, the Office for National Statistics revealed net migration to the UK from the EU has ­plummeted since the 2016 referendum. It is at its lowest level in a decade.

On the same day, the Expert Advisory Group on Migration published a report warning about the damage the UK Government’s post-Brexit immigration plans would do to Scotland.

It concluded Tory plans could reduce migration to Scotland by up to 50 per cent, and cut the number of workers here by up to five per cent over the next two decades.

While the likes of Nigel Farage, Tommy Robinson and the extreme Brexiteers in the Tory Party might be celebrating this news, the reality is it will leave Scotland poorer and worst off. Such a reduction in migration would seriously jeopardise the success of our economy.

We know May’s plan to end our freedom of movement rights – to live, work and study freely across 28 EU nations – will take opportunities away from Scottish people. But it will also prevent us from attracting the workers we need to grow our economy.

We also know that arbitrary UK Government plans to introduce a minimum salary threshold – preventing anyone earning less than £30,000 from being admitted to the UK – would be damaging for Scotland, where 63 per cent of workers earn less than that.

These toxic Tory plans would make Scotland suffer, sending our working-age population into decline, threatening tax revenues and causing serious staffing shortages in our NHS, care services and key sectors.

The UK Government’s ­policies do not even attempt to address our needs and May’s troubling obsession with reducing immigration, whatever the cost, will damage communities across Scotland.

As former Tory MP Anna Soubry put it, May “has a problem with immigration”, which has followed her through her career.

While Labour should have joined the SNP in challenging the racism that has blighted Westminster’s approach to immigration, it has too often fallen in line with the Tories and UKIP – from Gordon Brown echoing the BNP on “British jobs for British workers”, to Ed Miliband’s “controls on immigration” mugs, to Jeremy Corbyn’s support for Tory plans to end freedom of movement.

I am proud Scotland has a radically different and welcoming approach to immigration. We recognise our country has been built on the contribution migrants have made to Scottish society over the centuries. We know that without immigration, we face population decline.

It is one of the many reasons Scotland needs independence – so we can build a system of migration that meets our needs and values. With ­Westminster proving it is incapable of acting in our interests, it is clearer by the day that Scotland must take control of its own future.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.