Thursday, 22 February 2018 12:06


The SNP’s Westminster Immigration spokesperson has warned that the reduction in the number of EU migrants coming to the UK “is a worrying sign of things to come”, with the UK government stumbling towards a hard Brexit and is still fixated with “nonsensical” migration targets.

Stuart McDonald MP added that the UK government’s delays over its promised immigration White Paper were beginning to hit frontline services and businesses as the number of skilled EU workers dropped, and as the UK hit its self-imposed monthly cap for visas for skilled workers for the third month in a row.

The statistics published by the ONS show that for the year ending September 2017, EU net migration numbers fell by 75,000 since September 2016. 

The report concluded that “EU net migration has fallen over the last year, as fewer EU citizens are coming to the UK and the number leaving the UK increased,” and that the number of EU citizens coming to the UK for work-related reasons has also fallen over the last year.

Stuart McDonald MP said:

“The drop in EU migrants coming to the UK seeking work and also the numbers leaving, are a worrying sign of things to come if the UK government continues to lead us towards a messy hard Brexit and retains its obsession with nonsensical migration targets.

“Behind these figures are our EU colleagues and neighbours who are deciding to leave the UK, or who are put off from coming to the UK - seeing it as less welcoming, and less attractive.  And little wonder with the prospect of a registration system that the Home Office are currently scrambling to put in place, and doubts about what rules will apply to those who arrive during any transition period.

“The UK government might claim these figures are good news. However, do they also deem the loss of vital NHS workers, or the loss of agricultural workers to be welcomed? 

“The reduction in EU workers has seen an increase in the need for non-EU workers, but the UK government has hit its self-imposed monthly cap for non-EU tier 2 visas for 3 months in a row for the first time ever and has taken no action to remedy this massive problem for businesses and public services trying to recruit.

“The UK hasn’t even left the EU yet and already the consequences are biting hard. To add insult to injury the UK government has not come up with anything close to a plan in dealing with this, despite countless promises that a White Paper on immigration would be published before Christmas.

“With the Tories dithering and Labour divided, only the SNP has a clear immigration proposal – free movement works, so let’s retain it.  And if Westminster can’t deliver the immigration policies that Scotland’s economy and population requires, then we should have the powers to deliver with the Scottish Government.”

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