The leaked paper: What will Scotland do?
The Home Office’s leaked paper on EU citizens was sadly rather predictable. They clearly want to deal with EU citizens in the same way as all other foreigners – and as Pavel Iosad has repeatedly reminded us on Twitter, nobody has ever seemed to mind that much.
However, it will have huge repercussions for the UK. Most EU citizens have ID cards only (no passports), and if that’s not good enough any longer, a large number of tourists and business people will go elsewhere.
Also, whereas people from outwith the EU will expect to jump through various immigration hoops if they want to work anywhere other than in their home country, EU citizens will still have nearly 30 hassle-free destinations to choose from. For instance, when I accepted a job offer in Bishopbriggs back in 2002, I was weighing it up against another opportunity in Norway. If the Scottish job had required a time-limited visa, I don’t think I would have been interested in it (or at the very least, they would have had to offer a much higher salary to make me consider it).
Although it’s possible the new rules will only apply to new arrivals from the EU after Brexit, nothing is certain at this stage, and practically all EU citizens are watching developments with fear and dread. Lots of people have already left, and many more are frantically searching for a job on the continent (or two jobs, if their partner expects to work, too) to allow them to leave, too.
A year ago, Nicola Sturgeon’s reassuring words made a lot of EU citizens in Scotland relax – it felt like she was standing up for us, and that she wouldn’t allow Scotland do be dragged out of the Internal Market.
However, after June’s general election, things feel different. Although we still feel welcome on a personal level (which is very different from the stories EU citizens in non-metropolitan England are reporting), it now feels like the Scottish Government has lost its ScotRef mojo, that their plan now is to exit the EU with the rUK, trying to gain some powers over fisheries and agriculture in the process (something which I couldn’t care less about), and hope that the Brexit clusterfuck will make the people of Scotland rise up and demand independence within a few years. But if that’s the plan, I’m most likely to leave, together with a great many other EU citizens.
I might of course be wrong, and something might be happening behind the scenes. The Scottish Government might for instance have been told confidentially that the UK government will stay in the Internal Market (including free movement of people) forever more (but that doesn’t tally with the Home Office paper), or that Scotland will get full powers over immigration after Brexit. It might even be the case that Nicola is planning to declare independence without a referendum if need be, but that’d surprise me.
The main thing is that the EU citizens in Scotland increasingly feel like we’ve been forgotten. That we’ve been marched up to the top of the hill, and then abandoned.
If the Scottish Government has a great plan for how to protect us, they’d better start saying it out loud, or we’ll start leaving in great numbers. And the only two things that will really reassure us are either that the UK decides to remain within the Internal Market (either by ditching Brexit or by going for a Norwegian-style solution), or that Scotland declares independence before Brexit happens.
5 thoughts on “The leaked paper: What will Scotland do?”
Thing is, the SNP got cut down to size in the most recent election on the indyref2 issue, so I understand, given that also there is no increase in support for independence, that they’ve stopped banging the drum on that issue for the time being. The brexit wolf may well be on the way, but crying wolf hasn’t worked, and it may actually need to turn up for people to respond. I don’t think you can get resentful of the SNP for accepting reality.
Sir, your post has encapsulated what I have been feeling since the GE. I think the SNP was wrong footed and outwitted there. They have sort of lost the control of the Brexit narrative in Scotland.
Normally, I would agree with the progressive approach towards independence but we live in extraordinary times. The SNP no longer has the luxury to wait for the people to want independence; they have to engineer it. Something like the second indyref announcement. That was sublimely bold. One of the things SNP can do now is to liaise and coordinate back second indyref campaign with the YES groups. Start sowing the seeds now.
If they do take the approach as you have described in your fourth last paragraph, I fear it will too damaging for Scotland and its economy. Whether she likes it or not, Nicola Sturgeon has to call the referendum at the end of Article 50 deadline/timeframe and settle the issue for good.
I wish you well and that you will be able to stay in Scotland securely.
Greetings from Malaysia,
From Peter Arnott, “Bella Caledonia” 6/9/2017
“I won’t be the the only person to say this, on this site and elsewhere, but the Programme for Government set out yesterday by the First Minister is far and away the most progressive and ambitious that the chamber has ever heard. An awful lot of it makes welcome reading to an awful lot of people involved in the broader Yes coalition over the last few years. From a primary to tertiary strategy on education, to a positive and manufacturing and export based vision for the economy – all underpinned by a publicly owned and run investment bank – from an unashamedly optimistic, joined up programme going from infrastructure to green targets to taxation and welfare, this PFG represents nothing less than an aspiration to transform this small country.
That this is being done in the doomed, minimal expectation atmosphere of Brexit is to dissociate Scotland from the UK without even mentioning the Constitution, and it left opposition parties floundering, responding to the speech that they were expecting, not the speech they got. Within the narrow confines of the Holyrood Bubble and it’s attendant commentariat, it was something of a game-changer.
We’ve had a few months now since the election of denial and wound licking. And the document produced yesterday is of course still ambition rather than achievement.
The question of how it will play in the wider world of Scotland, let alone the wider world beyond will probably come down to what the “story” is. And that may comer down to nuance and feeling as much as the very firmly holistic and grounded “culture of government” that the PRG sets out. It unashamedly looks to a Scottish State to coordinate and shape a holistic vision of what a country can be. In the contemporary context, this is almost thrilling in its heresy. It is also entirely, unashamedly, optimistically European.
It is a Programme for Devolved Government with the ambition we’d look for from Independence. In fact, in many ways, it is far MORE ambitious than was the White Paper produced for the 2014 Referendum Campaign.
“It unashamedly looks to a Scottish State to coordinate and shape a holistic vision of what a country can be. In the contemporary context, this is almost thrilling in its heresy. It is also entirely, unashamedly, optimistically European.”
And this, to me, is a sure sign that the Sturgeon Government has moved on. In retrospect, the perpetuation of the “Indy Mood” BEYOND September 2014 and through 2015 and 16 (until the brexit vote, in fact) , that sustained and promoted the fortunes not just of the SNP, but of the rather more numinous “mood of optimism” in our political culture, was bound to come to cultural if not arithmetical grief in the unexpected election of 2017. The wave had been stoked up and kept going by a mixture of stubborn ineptiotude and arrogance in the Cameron government, and charisma in the person of Nicola Sturgeon…and the wave was bound to crash at sometime.
But what was clear yesterday was that the twin realities “external” to the aforementioned Holyrood Bubble of the increased uncertainty of Brexit on the one hand and the mercurial rise of Corbyn on the other may well have taken the immediate constitutional campaign of “IndyRef 2” off the front burner, but they have also opened a space for a far more specific and identifiable “left” programme of government by the SNP.
Thanks to an astonishngly positive response to the new circumstances that seems to be very much led from the front, the SNP government have hit the ground running in a New Normality that I, at least, was slow to see coming.
But make no mistake. This degree of radicalism in government is only possible if the political priority of building a referendum coalition which includes, (as Salmond so cautiously did) a very Not-Radical proportion of the Scottish Electorate that is simply arithmetically essential to a Yes vote, has been decisively dropped. Ironically, we and Nicola Sturgeon may be being afforded this vision of Scotland’s future only because The Independence Campaign – as we have understood it up until now – is off the agenda.
The “Indy Moment” of 2011-2016 is over. We are in a new phase now. There are things happening over which we have control, as evidenced by the leaking yesterday of a Home Office paper on future UK Immigration policy as suicidal as it is illiberal, as oppressive as it is impractical. The contrast of confidence that was displayed yesterday between Edinburgh and London is absolutely stark. . For my money, it is exactly what needed to be done to positively change the story we need to tell ourselves as a culture. The way to prove to ourselves our fitness to govern ourselves…is to do it.”
This is a game of 3-D chess, and the SG has learned to keep their strategy very close to the chest. This does not mean they do not have one, however, nor that they are almost certain to be having secret discussions with the EU, who are on the record as saying they do *not* wish to lose Scotland.
The more the EU negotiators, and the Scottish people are made aware that the Westminster government are negotiating with one face, and planning with another, the more attitudes will change. Both in mainland Europe, and within Scotland. There’s a long way to go yet in this matter, and while I understand how distressing it is to those whose futures are severely impacted, I am certain that things will change radically in Scotland, before brexit occurs. Because, when you get right down to it – *all* our futures are severely impacted by this catastrophe.
‘I might of course be wrong, and something might be happening behind the scenes’
Take reassurance from the fact that you are more on the ball than you know. A Scottish referendum will be called once Brtexit has been finalised. The people of Scotland will be given the opportunity to decide if they want to sink with rUK or choose a different path.
Given the bleak future outlook for the UK, Scotland would have to be really stupid not to save herself.