EU expert: ‘Scotland can have independent migration rules without any border controls’


Think-tank leader: Independent Scottish migration system can work without border posts

THE DIRECTOR OF an influential research group has said that Scotland can run its own migration system without jeopardising free movement with the rest of the UK. 

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, said that rules could regulate workers rights through the tax system rather than through border checks. 

An expert on Russia, China, global governance, and UK-EU relations, Grant has been an important voice in the debate following the vote in England and Wales to exit the European Union in June 2016. 

Responding to claims that devolving migration would mean border problems for Scotland, Grant replied: “No. If Scotland has its own National Insurance numbers, it could take in EU citizens who are only allowed to work in Scotland.”

Warnings of problems with the Scotland-England border have been repeatedly raised as a scare-tactic to oppose the growth in support for further Scottish autonomy and independence. 

Read more – Divisive nationalists: Outcry at Tory cabinet attacks on foreigners in UK

The Labour-Liberal Scottish executive actually ran its own small independent migration policy, called the ‘Fresh Talent Initiative’ between 2004 and 2008 which gave international graduates two years to seek employment – as a policy to encourage people to move to Scotland. 

With a population that has flatlined over the past century, encouraging migration to Scotland has been an economic priority – while UK-wide policies under the Tories have emphasised a target to reduce inward migration. 

The issue of free movement is likely to play a key role in a fresh referendum on Scottish independence – as Tory policy and negotiating positions with the EU demand harsher rules for people born outside Britain. Tory asylum policy has also been criticised for the inhumane treatment of those imprisoned in detetion centres, and for the rejection of refugee children from Syria. 

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