THE SNP has slammed Scottish Tories for voting for the controversial immigration bill that seeks to end to freedom of movement in the UK.

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill is part of the move towards the UK Government's new points-based immigration system, to be introduced from 2021.

It was approved at third reading by 342 votes to 248, majority 94, thereby clearing all stages in the House of Commons.

As well as bringing an end to freedom of movement, the bill offers no solutions to issues arising from the ongoing coronavirus crisis, such as visa extensions and the protection of asylum seekers.

SNP shadow immigration minister Stuart McDonald MP says the Tories have once again let Scotland down in their failure to follow through on commitments to create an immigration system that would work for all parts of the UK.

McDonald, who called the bill “draconian” and “ideologically-driven”, said: “This bill will see families split apart, businesses drowned in red tape and unable to recruit, people left destitute, black holes in food production, hospitality and health care sectors, and EU citizens stripped of their rights overnight. It is quite frankly a disaster for Scotland.

“The majority of Scotland's population growth is due to come from migration yet this Bill’s aim is to cut it, risking Scotland's working-age population being plunged into decline.

"This will hit GDP, tax revenues, and cause staffing shortages in public services and across key sectors.
“The Scottish Tories have dismissed all of these serious concerns and failed Scotland – again - by putting party union first and voting for a bill that will impose huge economic hardship on the country they are supposed to represent.

"Their credibility has been completely undermined and they should be embarrassed over the damage they have inflicted on their own constituencies, particularly in rural areas.

“And all of this after their Westminster boss failed to confirm the UK government will provide the powers and funding the Scottish Government needs to aid a strong economic recovery for Scotland.

"Whilst migration and fiscal powers remain reserved to Westminster, Scotland’s ability to financially recover from the impact of Brexit and Covid-19 remains seriously hampered.  

“Scotland needs the devolution of immigration and fiscal powers now to do what is best for Scotland in these difficult times. Successive governments have failed Scotland for decades, but this Bill is one of the biggest disasters in modern times.”

Labour's Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, warned the Government not to turn its back on child refugees.

She pressed to vote for her amendment which sought to continue existing arrangements for unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with close relatives in the UK.

It was defeated by 255 votes to 332 - a majority of 77.