ONE of the authors of the Growth Commission has told how he was subject to online abuse after their report urged increasing migration to Scotland to address the problems caused by our ageing population.

Roger Mullin had focussed on talent acquisition and immigration policy, which he said was stifling entrepreneurship in Scotland.

“Despite the rhetoric from the UK Government about wanting to trade with the world, I think the UK has become more inward-looking and insular,” he said.

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“You can see that most obviously in the attitudes of a lot of people to immigration which are counter-productive to a modern, open, trading economy. It’s running the risk of taking us back to the protectionist eras of a long time ago.

“It’s not just a change in economic policy, it’s a cultural shift we need to get in Scotland.

“This morning, when I was tweeting, I had to block a few people. I’ve been getting quite a lot of abuse and it has been entirely around the area of immigration – sheer xenophobia.

“So, we have a challenge explaining to everybody in Scotland why it is in our interest to be an open, welcoming, entrepreneurial country rather than the inward-looking, protectionist-type approach that increasingly dominates UK Government policy.”

Mullin said the UK Government’s visa “block” was the biggest problem facing investors and entrepreneurs who wanted to come here, with requirements that they had to invest between £1 million to £10m.

“If you look different parts of the world – not just small countries but places such as California and the like – a substantial amount of their famed boom in entrepreneurship a number of years ago was fuelled by being able to attract entrepreneurs and create an environment where they were welcomed and supported in different ways. We don’t have that in the UK.”

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Mike Danson, professor of enterprise policy at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, said the report was rigorous and robust, and that Brexit had altered some of the arguments, such as on migration.

He was not phased by the plan to retain sterling during a transitional period: “I know some commentators have questioned whether it is feasible and desirable, and circumstances may change.

“Having a Scots pound, maybe tied to the euro, maybe tied to sterling, may be sensible in the longer term.

“It would be unusual for any country becoming independent to have its own currency from day one, so I think inevitably there would be a transition period maybe with parallel currencies.

“While the Treasury during the independence referendum had said very clearly it was Westminster debt or the UK’s debt, what the Growth Commission is saying is that, in reality, Scotland would accept a share of that debt and therefore it’s politics – negotiation and compromise.”

Universities Scotland director, Alastair Sim, said that although it remained neutral on the question of Scotland’s constitutional future, the body welcomes the “emphasis the commission puts on the role of universities as a driver of sustainable economic growth and productivity”.

He added: “We are proud of the contribution universities make to Scotland’s society and economy and are keen to partner with government and others to continue to grow this contribution through the delivery of high-level skills, research, innovation and internationalisation.

“There’s a lot in the commission’s report, including welcome reference to the value that inward migration and international students adds to Scotland.”