Wednesday, 22 August 2018 05:00

SNP BACK CALLS FOR OVERHAUL OF ‘BROKEN’ UK IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

DIRECTORS WARN VISA REFUSALS STARVING UK ARTS FESTIVALS OF TALENT

SNP MP Deidre Brock has backed calls by leading festival directors for an urgent overhaul of the UK government’s hostile immigration and visa system, after a number of authors invited to attend this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival had their visas refused. 

In a joint-letter in the Guardian today, the directors of some of Scotland and the UK's biggest international festivals voiced their growing concern at the number of visa refusals, and warned artists are being deterred from coming to the UK because of overly complex and costly Home Office visa application procedures. The directors called on the UK government to alleviate the visa process to ensure festivals could continue to attract the best world talent across the arts.

Deidre Brock, the SNP MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, where the annual Edinburgh International Book Festival is held, said the visa refusal debacle was the latest example of the UK government's damaging hostile immigration policies, which are harming Scotland's economy and the UK's international reputation. 

The SNP has repeatedly called for the full devolution of immigration powers to Holyrood in order to address Scotland's specific immigration needs and to boost economic growth.

Commenting, Deidre Brock MP said:

“Scotland’s international festivals are world-renowned but the UK government's damaging immigration policies are undermining their success, harming our international reputation, and putting the huge benefits to our economy and society at risk.

"The appalling debacle over visa refusals for leading artists is just the latest example of the damage the UK government is doing with its hostile approach to immigration - deterring the world's best talent from attending our festivals, which risks making them less attractive to tourists, and restricts access to the arts for people across the UK.

"Under the Tories, the UK's immigration system is broken and desperately needs fixing. The UK government must take heed of these calls for reforms to the visa system to ensure our international festivals can remain truly global - and there must be a full review and overhaul of the UK's immigration system to ensure it makes the most of the benefits immigration brings. 

"Successive UK governments have utterly failed to ensure an immigration system that works in Scotland's interests. It is vital that immigration powers are finally devolved to the Scottish Parliament so we can introduce a fair and sensible system that meets Scotland's specific needs and boosts economic growth."

'Visa refusals starve UK’s arts festivals of world talent' - https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/aug/21/visa-refusals-starve-uks-arts-festivals-of-world-talen

'Home Office refuses visas for authors invited to Edinburgh book festival' - https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/aug/08/visas-refused-for-a-dozen-authors-invited-to-book-festival

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