The result of the EU referendum and events since are understandably a cause of concern and anxiety for so many people who have made their home in Scotland.
My SNP colleagues and I campaigned passionately for a remain vote, and the UK-wide result was deeply disappointing. It is heartening to see that the people of Scotland have voted so decisively to remain in the EU.
The contribution made by EU nationals in Scotland cannot be underestimated with 12,000 EU citizens alone employed in Scotland’s health and social care sectors, for example.
The UK Government recently described EU nationals as “negotiating capital” in a letter and I, and my SNP colleagues, find this approach and branding abhorrent.
During recent votes on Article 50 in Parliament, the SNP tabled many amendments, including one calling for the rights of EU nationals in the UK to be protected. Unfortunately, though we continued to have cross-party support for our amendments, none were added to the Bill. Therefore – with little detail from the Prime Minister on the rights of EU nationals and what arrangements are in place for workers’ rights, UK nationals living in the EU, and the impact on the economy – my SNP colleagues and I could not vote for the triggering of Article 50.
Brexit is a threat to the economy and local jobs. Access to the single market allows our businesses to trade freely with the rest of Europe. Instead, a hard Brexit threatens our local economy, with jobs and businesses likely to near the full brunt of this Tory vanity project.
Since the referendum result, I have:
Written to every EU National in Glasgow North West, assuring them that they are welcome in Scotland and that their contribution is valued.
Repeatedly called upon the UK Government to give a solid guarantee that EU nationals can remain in the UK. As yet, these have not been forthcoming.
Warned that UK Government plans to charge taxpayers billions – to make up for lost EU research funding – does not provide a long-term solution to replacing the many benefits UK universities and research institutes could lose as a result of leaving the EU.