The National:

FROM the hostile environment and the Windrush scandal to the xenophobic Go Home vans, the Westminster Tory government has consistently pursued toxic policies that punish people in society and those that come to contribute and make this country their home.

At a time when the UK should be strengthening support and extending its hand to help vulnerable men, women and children seeking safety and security, this Tory government is instead ploughing ahead with damaging plans that will target those in desperate need.

The Tories’ Nationality and Borders Bill – dubbed the “anti-refugee bill” - would strip many refugees of crucial rights, including the opportunity to settle in the UK permanently, to family reunion, and to access public funds.

READ MORE: Alison Phipps: What can we Scots do about this unbelievably cruel Borders Bill?

It doesn’t stop there. The bill would also criminalise many of those seeking protection in the UK because of their irregular arrival here, and see the warehousing of asylum applicants in locations such as the horrendous Napier Barracks become standard practice, or offshore detention centres.

It has rightly been condemned by organisations including the Scottish Refugee Council, who said that it “does not offer the humane system we need”, and Families Together, who warned that the “proposals pose a huge threat to refugee protection” across the UK.

The anti-refugee bill should never have seen the light of day, let alone have been brought before Parliament.

The recent crisis and ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan should serve as a reminder of the hardship people are suffering under and the torturous circumstances they are seeking to escape.

The National: Ghalib Hussain helps refugees from their boats as they arrive in Lesbos

Meanwhile, we have witnessed the recent ramping up of hostile rhetoric from the Tories over the Channel crossings.

Instead of being openly welcomed, refugees and vulnerable people are watching the Tory government hastily pull up the drawbridge.

The SNP has been calling on the Tory government to introduce a fair and humane migration system for years – but those calls have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.

At this year’s virtual SNP conference, I am delighted and proud that party Members have backed the resolution rejecting the UK government’s harmful Nationality and Borders Bill in its entirety, and called out the immoral and inhumane policies being pushed by the Home Office – such as offshoring human beings, holding people indefinitely in accommodation centres and criminalising refugees with jail sentences simply for seeking refuge.

We can do so much better than what is being offered by the Tory government and its broken Brexit Britain vision.

It’s clear that Scotland is on a different path to Westminster and that we face a stark choice between two futures. A choice between an increasingly isolationist and inward-looking Tory Brexit Britain, or an independent Scotland with fairness and humanity at its very heart.

Westminster is not working in Scotland’s interests. As Westminster steps off the world stage, Scotland seeks to step up – to play a leading and meaningful role as part of the international community supporting those seeking safety.

Only with the full powers that come with being an independent country will we be able to reject toxic Westminster policies and instead look to build a more equal and fairer society.