SNP MPs will today vote against the UK Government’s Immigration Bill arguing its opposition to freedom of movement will damage Scotland’s economy and present an obstacle to the campaign to attract more people to live and work north of the Border.

Stuart McDonald, the party’s immigration spokesman, warned the legislation also risks granting Tory ministers a “blank cheque” and sweeping powers to change the immigration system post-Brexit with little parliamentary scrutiny.

He welcomed the UK Government’s climb-down on settled status fees for EU nationals, which would have seen them have to pay £65 to register to continue to live in the UK, but warned that measures in the immigration bill would be a "sucker punch" to Scottish businesses.

The SNP have repeatedly called on the UK Government to devolve immigration powers to the Scottish Parliament so that the Scottish Government is in a position to design a system that addresses Scotland’s economic and demographic needs.

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The UK Government’s own white paper on immigration post-Brexit suggests that there would be an 85% reduction in the number of workers from the European Economic Area coming to Scotland if freedom of movement comes to an end.

Scottish Government analysis found the average EU citizen in Scotland adds £10,400 to government revenue and £34,400 to GDP each year – contributing around £4.4 billion to the economy every year.

Businesses have also highlighted their concerns with the Director of CBI Scotland, Tracy Black, stating that the “proposals outlined in the white paper don’t meet Scotland’s needs or the needs of the UK as a whole, and would be a sucker punch for many firms right across the country.”

“The Tory government’s immigration bill poses a very real danger to people’s livelihoods and risks ripping away the rights that people across the UK and EU have mutually benefited from. SNP MPs will oppose the bill every step of the way,” said McDonald.

“The Prime Minister has overridden her own Cabinet in an attempt to force through measures to end free movement and extend draconian anti-family immigration rules to EU citizens.

“Whilst we welcome the UK Government’s overdue climb-down to scrap the settled status fee for EU nationals, serious questions still remain over rights to appeal dubious Home Office decisions, and why there is a deadline to apply. An arbitrary cut-off points creates a very real risk of another Windrush-type situation for the thousands who will inevitably miss it.”

He added: “The measures have been met with disdain and concern from business groups and employers, who warn that it would be a ‘sucker punch’ to firms across the country. If unchallenged and unopposed, the immigration bill will be catastrophic for communities and businesses across the whole of Scotland – particularly for key sectors such as tourism, hospitality and social care.”

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The SNP want immigration powers devolved to Holyrood so the Scottish Government can develop a tailored migration system. Differentiated immigration policies operate in a umber of countries. Australia has a regional migration visa scheme, while Quebec and Prince Edward Island in Canada operate schemes to tackle declining populations.