By: Valerie Johnston
On 24 April 2017, the Scottish Trade Union Congress arrived in Aviemore for the start of the annual congress. On the agenda is a six-point proposal detailing a bespoke immigration plan that would allow Scotland to continue to accept European immigrants despite Brexit. This plan largely impacts industries in Scotland that rely heavily on immigrant labour, such as agriculture and hospitality. While so far, Theresa May has declined the proposal, STUC continues to advocate for this policy.
The policy includes giving Scotland control over its own immigration process, as well as rights to increase minimum wage within Scotland, and more. Far from being the latest buzzword, bespoke immigration is just one more proposal seeking to empower the Scottish Parliament. STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith’s remarks that “UK immigration policy is increasingly encroaching on…the Scottish Parliament, including how it runs its public services…” is a clear picture of how bespoke immigration represents a much bigger issue.
On the other hand, Scottish conservative MSP Ross Thomson disagreed that Scotland needs to be a part of the EU, or to have bespoke immigration powers, in order to protect workers and industries. “It has been made clear that…in fact, more powers are likely to come to Scotland [via Brexit]”, he said, referring to comments made by the English Prime Minister.
The proposal also includes provisions that would revoke an immigrant’s visa should they move outside of Scotland. This is modelled after areas in Canada, such as Quebec, where separate immigration policies are adopted by a single province within the entire nation. Dissenters say that this policy would simply open a door for unauthorized immigration back into England, though the majority of public opinion agrees that simple differentiation within current legislation could make the bespoke immigration proposal work.