Scotland wants people from European Union nations to stay and not leave whatever happens with the increasingly chaotic Brexit negotiations amid concerns that leaving the EU could result in a population fall.

Visiting Paris to open the Scottish Government’s new office in the French city, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that officials will increase their efforts to encourage EU citizens to remain in Scotland.


She also addressed the Assemblée Nationale, the lower house of the French Parliament, and said that the UK’s decision to end Freedom of Movement as part of its Brexit deal is a ‘self-defeating measure’.

‘Those EU citizens of course include 7,000 French people, who are our colleagues, friends, neighbours and in many cases our family. The Scottish Government is proud that they have done us the honour of making Scotland their home,’ she said.

‘We will always stick up for their rights. In recent months we have lobbied successfully to ensure EU citizens would not have to pay a fee to obtain settled status in the UK. And we will always make it clear that EU citizens are welcome. In fact in the coming months, we plan to step up our efforts to encourage EU citizens to stay in Scotland,’ she added.

Discussing the impact on Scotland of the UK Government’s proposed Brexit deal, Sturgeon points out that it is set to have a damaging impact on Scotland. ‘For me, this is one of the saddest parts of Brexit. The UK Government is proclaiming the end of free movement as a victory, instead, it is a self-defeating measure. It removes opportunity from millions of people,’ she explained.

‘It is an approach which is especially damaging to Scotland. Without freedom of movement there is a danger that our population will start to decline. We could face workforce shortages in rural areas, in our universities, in our care and health services. European nationals are not only very welcome in Scotland. They are crucial to our well-being,’ she pointed out.

‘All of this is down to the red lines that the UK Government has chosen to draw. Given the existence of those red lines, I understand why the European Union believes that the deal agreed in November is the best which could be achieved. And I appreciate that many people in France and across the EU would like the UK to just get on with it. But no government of Scotland which has the interests of this and future generations at heart could possibly support the current deal,’ she added.

There are concerns that Brexit will have a major impact on immigration in Scotland. Brexit could cut net international migration to Scotland by between a third and a half, with far-reaching consequences for the economy and fragile rural communities, according to research commissioned by the Scottish government.

The report by an independent panel of experts says that replacing freedom of movement for EU citizens with the UK’s proposed system, which includes minimum salary requirements for most work visas, is expected to dramatically cut the flow of migrants from EU member states.

‘Freedom of movement has been good for Scotland and has helped us grow our economy. The proposals the UK government are putting forward for after Brexit will not work for Scotland, they will damage Scotland,’ said Scotland’s Migration Minister Ben Macpherson.