SCOTLAND’S Brexit Minister has called on the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid to get his department to “show some sense” over the immigration of much-needed people wanting to come and work in Scotland.

Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, spoke out following The National’s story yesterday that the Canadian media had taken up the case of Sine Halfpenny, a Gaelic teacher from Nova Scotia who was denied a visa to teach at Bunessan Primary School on Mull, even though Argyll and Bute Council sponsored her application.

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Russell said: “There is no doubt that anyone who is told the story of Sine Halfpenny reacts with incredulity.

“That has been the attitude of the Canadian press in the last week.

“But it is not the attitude of a Tory Home Office immigration minister. They simply refuse to accept that the educational and cultural needs of children in a tiny community on the Island of Mull are of any relevance or importance at all compared to pandering the prejudices of the Tory party.

“I have supported Gaelic for all of my working life and there has been fantastic progress in Gaelic medium education in the last 40 years. The parents at Bunessan wanted to share in that success story and give their young ones the best start in life by ensuring they had a wide-ranging, culturally rich and academically stimulating environment.

“They eventually persuaded the Council to back them but they reckoned without the Tory London-centric, right-wing obsession with immigration which has now blighted their community and their families.

“But it has done something else as well. It has broadcast to the world a simple fact – Britain doesn’t want young, ambitious qualified people to work here.

“In fact it will go to extreme lengths to stop that happening, repeatedly refusing visas and arrogantly asserting the right of faceless bureaucrats behind desks to have the final say about a young person’s hopes and dreams.

“Nothing could be easier than the Home Secretary saying to one of those people this morning ‘This has gone on long enough. It is harming our reputation at home and abroad. Let’s show some sense’.

“But until he does so the damage to the UK’s reputation will continue to spread, as it is spreading now through the media in Canada, and the catastrophe of Brexit – the words this week of a former New Zealand Prime Minister – will reveal what a sorry, shabby, unwelcoming and insular country Tory Britain has become.

“And of course the education and life chances of the children of Bunessan will continue to suffer.”

The Home Office confirmed there has been no change to the decision not to grant Halfpenny a visa.

A spokesperson said:  “The Government fully recognises the contribution that international teachers – and other professionals – make to the UK.

"However, it is important that our immigration system works in the national interest, ensuring that employers look first to the UK resident labour market before recruiting from overseas.

“When demand exceeds the monthly available allocation of Tier 2 (General) places, priority is given to applicants filling a shortage or PhD-level occupations.

"No occupation on the Shortage Occupation List – which is based on advice by the independent Migration Advisory Committee – has been refused a place.”