As the Tories press ahead with their hard Brexit retreat from the single market, Scotland’s distinct demographic trends require powers over immigration to support public services and the economy.
The Scottish Government predicts that 90% of the population increase in Scotland over the next decade will come from net migration, both from international migration and from the rest of the UK. In contrast, natural change is projected to be the biggest driver of population growth in the UK as a whole.
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce identified Scotland’s lower population growth rate as a reason why Scotland must have a distinct migration system.
A ScotCen survey published this week found that 61% of people in Scotland support continued freedom of movement to protect our single market membership.
Commenting, SNP MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde Stuart McMillan said:
“Population growth is vital for the health of Scotland’s economy and public services – but the UK government is determined to close the door on the workers our economy depends on.
“The Leave campaign said that Brexit would mean Scotland would get powers over immigration – but that promise has been left on the £350m-a-week-for-the-NHS bus.
“Polls consistently show that people in Scotland support freedom of movement as part of our membership of the single market membership.
“This is yet another example of why Scotland needs the power to determine our own future – and why the people of Scotland should be given the choice between Brexit and independence.”
Written PQ from Stuart McMillan MSP:
Stuart McMillan (Greenock and Inverclyde) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the announcement by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce’s chief executive that Scotland must have a unique migration system to respond to its lower population growth rate.
It is essential that Scotland maintains its population growth to ensure that we have an appropriate demographic profile to sustain all of our population living full, supported and productive lives. Stimulating population growth is a key driver of sustainable economic growth, and in Scotland, most of our population growth is supported by inward migration. We know that 90% of the population increase in Scotland over the next ten years is projected to come from migration (57% from net international migration and 32% from net migration from the rest of the UK). This is markedly different to the projections for the UK as a whole, where 51% of the projected population increase over the next 10 years is due to natural change and 49% is due to international migration. If current trends continue, net inward migration is projected to be the main contributor to Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years.
As the Chamber of Commerce have identified, it is crucial that Scotland has an immigration system which enables businesses to attract and access the skills and talent required to boost Scotland’s long-term competiveness and to support Scotland’s Economic Strategy.