SNP MP asks Home Office to ‘show compassion’ in Brain family case


MPs take up case of Brain family at Westminster

THE IMMINENT deportation of an Australian family who settled in the Highlands was brought up in the House of Commons yesterday, as MPs asked the Home Office to “show compassion”. 

SNP MPs Ian Blackford and Angus Robertson have challenged the UK government over its plan to deport a young family who settled in Scotland five years ago. 

Gregg and Katherine Brain, and their school-age son Lachlan, face removal to Australia after failing to meet visa criteria. Blackford, who represents the Brains’ constituency, has argued that their case is a “human rights issue” due to Lachlan Brain having Gaelic as his first language. 

"Lachlan reads and writes in Gaelic and would be going to a country where the first language is English. I am asking the UK government to show some compassion”, Blackford said in a letter to UK immigration minister James Brokenshire. 

“We have to leave the country next Tuesday” Gregg Brain

The family came to the Highlands as a result of a specific appeal to Australian migrants, which was backed by the Home Office. They have lived in Dingwall since 2011, and their seven-year-old son Lachlan attends the Gaelic medium school. 

Last month the family were evicted and told to quit their jobs, as they could not meet the stricter visa requirements put in place after the Home Office scrapped the post-study visa scheme. 

SNP MP Angus Robertson challenged the UK Government on the case during Prime Minister’s questions at Westminster. Chancellor George Osborne told Robertson that “the family don’t meet the immigration criteria”; Robertson said this was “frankly not good enough”. 

The UK government said that the Brain family had already been given extra time to meet the visa requirements, but had failed to do so. 

“We have to leave the country next Tuesday”, said Gregg Brain, speaking to Channel 4 News from Inverness on 25 May. In reference to the Home Office response so far, Brain said: “Promising to write a letter after we have to leave the country isn’t really a solution”. 

“I am asking the UK government to show some compassion” Ian Blackford

Though time is running out for the family, a last-minute repreive may come in the form of a job offer from community-owned distillery GlenWyvis.

The offer depends on whether the distillery can raise enough funds in its community share bid. Director John McKenzie told The National that the Brains have been living on the street in Dingwall where he himself was born, and that he hoped a “last-gasp job offer might save the day”. 

A petition to ask the Home Office to reconsider its decision over the Brains’ visa has attracted over 2,700 signatures. Former First Minister Alex Salmond has asked Brokenshire to exercise “ministerial discretion” and give the family “the equivalent status they would have achieved under the post-study work visa.” 

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