Nicola Sturgeon is to speak out against the end of freedom of movement – warning it will damage the workforce, our universities and health and social care.
Scotland’s first minister will speak at the Assemblee Nationale in the French Parliament and will address concerns around immigration policy after the UK leaves the European Union.
Sturgeon will be in Paris to open a new Scottish government office before attending the French Parliament’s 73-member foreign affairs committee.
‘For me, this is one of the saddest parts of Brexit,’ the First Minister will say in her speech to the committee.
‘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.
‘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 is also expected to give her support to EU citizens currently living in Scotland and will indicate the Scottish government’s intention to ‘step up’ efforts to encourage people to stay.
Sturgeon will say: ‘Those EU citizens, of course, include 7,000 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.
‘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.’