Scotland most pro-migration country in UK, poll finds

Ben Wray

Two-thirds of Scots would accept movement of workers between the EU and UK if it was necessary to secure a post-Brexit trade deal

A NEW poll has shown that Scots have the most favourable attitude towards migration in the UK, with 44 per cent agreeing that migrants had a positive impact compared to 30 per cent who disagreed.

The Survation poll on behalf of Channel 4 asked people in every part of the UK “do you believe immigration has had a positive or negative impact on Britain?”

In a regional breakdown, only London was more pro-immigration than Scotland, with the majority of regions showing majorities for a negative attitude.

The poll also asked “What if the only way the UK could reach a deal with the EU would be to agree to one or more of the following provisions: After Brexit, UK and EU citizens who wished to do so, could live and work in each other’s countries”, which received a positive endorsement from every part of the UK, with two-thirds of Scots endorsing this view.

READ MORE: Devolve immigration and employment law to Scotland, argues new Common Weal paper

The Scottish Government has called for the devolution of immigration powers to develop a bespoke policy towards migration, a position which has so far been rebuffed by the UK Government.

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said the new poll showed “the case for devolving migration powers is growing even stronger”, as well as reiterating the party’s call for the whole of the UK to stay in the single market, which would also mean maintaining freedom of movement as part of the EU’s “four freedoms”, which it says are “indivisible”.

McAlpine stated: “This major study shows that people in Scotland welcome the contribution made by migrants and support continued freedom of movement across Europe.

“As the SNP has consistently said, the best deal short of EU membership is to remain in the single market.

“People in Scotland overwhelmingly agree in keeping freedom of movement to get a deal – and so single market membership must remain on the table.

“With the Tory hostile environment approach so out of touch with Scottish attitudes, the case for devolving migration powers is growing even stronger.”

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About 6 per cent of those living in the UK, 3.8 million, are EU citizens. ONS statistics published in July show the number of people coming to the UK from other EU countries in 2017 was the lowest figure in four years, with more EU citizens leaving the UK than moving here.

For the same time period 80,468 moved from other EU countries to Scotland, with 56,613 going the other way. 235,000 EU nationals live in Scotland, 4 per cent of the resident population.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in June that the “default” position will be to grant EU nationals settled status, with a system being set up for all EU citizens in the UK to provide three responses: proof of ID, whether they have a criminal conviction and whether they live in the UK. However, this policy could be affected by a No Deal Brexit, as commitments from the EU for rights for UK nationals living in EU countries would not necessarily be applicable.

Picture courtesy of CommonSpace