First Minister: UK Brexit deal is ‘self-defeating.’
The Scottish Government will increase its efforts to encourage EU citizens to remain in Scotland, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will confirm in an address to the Assemblée Nationale, the lower house of the French Parliament, as she describes the UK’s decision to end Freedom of Movement as part of its Brexit deal as a ‘self-defeating measure.’
Speaking to the Foreign Affairs Committee after opening the Scottish Government’s new office in Paris, the First Minister will give her support to EU citizens currently living in Scotland. She will say:
“Those EU citizens of course include 13,000 French people, who are our colleagues, friends, neighbours and in many cases our family. The Scottish Government is proud that they have done us the honour of making Scotland their home.
“We will always stick up for their rights - in recent months we have lobbied successfully to ensure EU citizens would not have to pay a fee to obtain settled status in the UK. And we will always make it clear that EU citizens are welcome. In fact in the coming months, we plan to step up our efforts to encourage EU citizens to stay in Scotland.”
Discussing the impact on Scotland of the UK Government’s proposed Brexit deal she will go on to say:
“For me, this is one of the saddest parts of Brexit. The UK Government is proclaiming the end of free movement as a victory – instead, it is a self-defeating measure. It removes opportunity from millions of people.
“It is an approach which is especially damaging to Scotland. Without freedom of movement there is a danger that our population will start to decline. We could face workforce shortages in rural areas, in our universities, in our care and health services. European nationals are not only very welcome in Scotland. They are crucial to our well-being.
“All of this is down to the red lines that the UK Government has chosen to draw. Given the existence of those red lines, I understand why the European Union believes that the deal agreed in November is the best which could be achieved. And I appreciate that many people in France and across the EU would like the UK to just get on with it.
“But no government of Scotland which has the interests of this and future generations at heart could possibly support the current deal.”
The First Minister was invited to address the 73-strong Foreign Affairs Committee by Marielle de Sarnez, the chair of the committee and former French Minister for European Affairs. The session will be available to view live between 4.30pm and 5.40pm GMT on Tuesday 19 February.