“If we are able to sensibly free up and enhance peoples’ rights to live, to work, to study, to fall in love and form families wherever they wish then that’s magnificent.”- Stuart C McDonald.

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By Kerri McGuire

A new points system has sparked a debate among the British public as visas will be necessary for EU citizens to get into Britain. What does this mean for immigrants?

On the 23rd of June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. It took many debates between Europe and Britain on how the United Kingdom would swiftly exit with a fair trade deal. It has taken 2 Prime Ministers and what has felt like a lifetime of talks and empty promises, but the United Kingdom has officially left the European Union and is now an independent union.

Brexit has meant massive changes across the country, including changes to businesses and most importantly, travelling and migrating between Europe and Britain. Although the people of Britain have not felt the effects of travelling to other countries within Europe yet, we will soon feel it when Covid 19 travel restrictions are gone. Some of us may want to travel and live abroad in the future and it will be the same for those living in Europe who may want to live and work in the United Kingdom. A visa will be required for each member of a family who wishes to travel to any foreign country from either Britain or Europe.

How the new points system will work is that migrants will need to have 70 points to qualify for a visa. For example, if someone has the ability to speak English then this will earn them 10 points. Also, if you have been offered a job from an approved employer then you will earn 40 points. The other 20 points can be earned if the person will earn a minimum of £25,600 per year. However, if the migrant will be in a job within health or education then they can get those 20 points, even if they are not earning a salary of £25,600 a year. For these points to be earned however, they have to be earning at least £20,480 a year.

Stuart McDonald, a member of the Scottish National Party and the SNP Spokesperson on Immigration, Asylum and Border Control, gave his thoughts on this newly introduced points system and also the British Government’s approach to immigration since Brexit was enacted.

He said: “My party (the SNP) and I think it is really tragic that free movement of people across Europe is coming to an end for British citizens and that people aren’t able to come here freely as well from Europe. As time goes on we want to try and break down as many border restrictions as we can rather than put them up. Ultimately it’s a question of liberty and if we are able to sensibly free up and enhance peoples’ rights to live, to work, to study, to fall in love and form families wherever they wish then that’s magnificent.”

He also added: “what are the consequences? The consequences are if people here want to go and live or work in Europe they will have to meet whatever the requirements are for those particular countries.”

Studying also plays a huge part in immigration. Stuart McDonald said that he studied in a small town in Belgium for a year and many of his friends studied in European countries as well. He added that with the new points system, many young people in this generation will not get the same opportunities he and many others did.

He was also asked if the Government will have more control over immigration since the new system has been introduced.
He said: “What it does is it gives the UK Government the power to exclude EU nationals. Before Brexit it had complete control over its immigration system for anyone outside the EU. I thought free movement functioned perfectly well and was good for the country. Particularly good for Scotland. It was good for the country overall. I don’t think we need those restrictions.”

Brexit was a topic that popped up as it is the reason that free movement was restricted in the first place. It was clear throughout the campaigning for Brexit that the Conservative Party pushed strongly for Brexit, even if not all members agreed with it.

Stuart said: “Some people in the Conservative Party were against Brexit. Lots were in favour of it. I do think that migration was used as a political tool. The way certain politicians spoke about migration was disgraceful. Lies about migration were told. Not just in the referendum campaign, but in the years and months leading up to it. Migration was treated as a problem by the British Government in a way that it just wasn’t.

And certain newspapers and tabloids down south made cheap, dreadful, untrue headlines about migrants which I presume they thought that helped them sell newspapers. What it did was artificially fuel demand for Brexit so they could get immigration under control.”

Finally, he was asked about any changes that he would make to the way that the United Kingdom is handling immigration at the moment.
He said: “I would absolutely change everything about it. Since I’ve been in Parliament it’s just dreadful. So many aspects of it. Making it sound like a problem when it’s not.”

He also spoke about how we could change the way we treat immigration and speak about it.
He said: “Speak positively about it and the benefits of it rather than trying to make political capital out of fears which aren’t genuine. If there are issues around public services then fix them. Invest more in public services. Don’t scapegoat migrants. Don’t pretend it’s a problem. Don’t’ have ridiculous targets which the Government had for too long.”

He added: “Treat folk with a bit of dignity and recognise that people come here to contribute and be part of society. They make a massive contribution the country and so we should welcome that.”

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