THE UK Government’s post-Brexit immigration proposals have shown it is “determined to shut the door on Scotland’s future”, according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The proposals for ending free movement, unveiled in a White Paper last week, could lead to an 85% reduction in the number of European Economic Area (EEA) workers coming to Scotland, according to Scottish Government modelling.

Politicians, academics and migrant groups told the Sunday National the “disastrous” proposals make the strongest case yet for Scotland to have its own immigration policy.

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Under proposals EU workers would have to meet a minimum salary threshold. It noted, but has not yet confirmed, the Migration Advisory Committee’s widely condemned recommendation to set the level at £30k.

No dedicated immigration route for “low or unskilled” workers will be provided. Short-term visas of 12 months may be granted, but migrants will be unable to access public funds, bring family to the UK or apply for permanent status.

The cap on skilled workers sponsored by an employer would be lifted. EU citizens already living in the UK will be able to apply for “settled status” and it is proposed that the new restrictions will be introduced from 2021.

Sturgeon told the Sunday National: “By pursuing its hostile migration policy and a hard Brexit the UK Government seems determined to shut the door on Scotland’s future.

“The Prime Minister’s proposals will lead to a cut in our working population, hitting the economy, the NHS and social care.

“Scotland’s economy and society has been enriched by our fellow EU citizens and nothing illustrates more the way Scotland’s interests have been side-lined throughout the Brexit process than this disastrous migration policy.”

Projections on population decline in Scotland – released in February – were said by the Scottish Government to demonstrate the “overwhelming case” for its own migration policy. It is predicted that by 2040, lower migration alone would slash Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 4.5% – a drop of almost £5 billion a year.

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Sturgeon added: “We have presented serious analysis and evidence to the UK Government setting out Scotland’s distinctive needs and how a tailored solution for a future migration system could work with more powers for the Scottish Parliament. But when I raised this with the Prime Minister this week I was met with the usual brick wall.”

“This is of vital national importance and we will continue to work with Scottish business, unions and others to try to bring about a migration policy that will help, not harm, our country.”

Concerns in Scotland include the reliance of the tourism industry – worth an estimated £11bn – on EU workers, while the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) Scotland director has claimed the proposals will not support industry. Sturgeon said last week that the bill was “an act of vandalism” that attacked the NHS and the public sector.

The UK Government claims that Scotland will be able to address skills shortages through the Scotland specific Skilled Occupation List, now under review.

Concerns have also been raised about proposals on asylum. Though the Government said it will consider giving asylum seekers the right to work, it also signalled a tougher stance on refused refugees, with fewer safety nets and more focus on detention.

SCOTTISH MPs – who said they spend much of their time dealing with “horrific” immigration case errors – agreed there was an urgent need for Scotland to determine its immigration policy.

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP (pictured below) for Glasgow Central, said: “It’s clear from the detail in the UK Government’s white paper that Scotland’s voice has once again been completely ignored.

The National:

‘‘Sajid Javid is intent on pulling up the drawbridge to people coming to the UK to seek work and start a new life.”

She claimed her constituents faced “horrific experiences at the hands of the Home Office” with families being separated, people not being allowed to travel home for funerals or to see terminally ill relatives.

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“The White Paper is just an extension of the Home Office’s heartless and hostile environment,” she added. “It’s clearer than ever that Scotland needs control of its own immigration system.”

Last year independent think tank Reform Scotland argued that the country needed to boost immigration and recommended a separate Scottish policy should be implemented by Westminster.

“It’s an undeniable truth that Scotland needs migration,” said research director Alison Payne. The Fresh Talent initiative – introduced by Jack McConnell’s government in 2005 in order to encourage people to settle in Scotland – showed there was precedent, she said, with workers given an S on their tax code in order to ensure they could not move south of the border.

Alison Phipps, professor of languages and intercultural studies at Glasgow University and Unesco chair in refugee integration (pictured below), said: “We have learned nothing from Windrush. Our immigration system is no better.

“My views are that we need an independent Scotland. But given that there is currently such a toxicity around referendums I think there is rightly some political caution here.”

She claimed there was now a strong need for Scotland to have devolved immigration powers. A Scotland-specific policy would be a step towards that, she claimed.

Phipps added: “If we want to flourish, we need new people and fresh ideas, different ways of doing things. In terms of a regional immigration policy, Australia is a country you want to look at.

The National:

‘‘Immigration is specific to each state – you work, study and live in that state and it does not act as a magnet to other federal regions. It’s perfectly plausible that this would work here [in the UK] but examples from Canada and Germany also show workable regional frameworks.”

A spokeswoman for migrant group EU Citizens For An Independent Scotland, said the paper was “peppered” with charged language, reinforcing the fallacy of EU nationals being “queue jumpers” and ignored the fact that freedom on movement was a reciprocal right. “That’s a right that sadly Brexit will strip from 60+ million UK nationals,” she added.

She claimed it also revealed a “depressing” intent to see migrants as a revenue stream, valued for their economic contribution above all else.

“It absolutely strengthens the case for Scotland to set its own immigration policy, especially for rural areas where some industries and communities could be all but decimated by the combined effects of Brexit and these new UK immigration rules,” she added.

A Home Office spokesman stressed it would be engaging with businesses, devolved administrations and the public over the next year on the proposals.

“The new system, operating from 2021, is designed to help drive up wages and productivity across the UK economy, including in Scotland, and will support businesses, communities and our public services,” he added.

“One of its strengths is its flexibility through a skills-based immigration system, allowing us to attract the talented workers we need but also delivering on the referendum result and ending free movement.”