PMQs: Blackford says ‘UK causing EU citizens distress’
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As part of an opposition day debate, the Scottish party will hold a parliamentary vote on “regrets” at the Government’s decision to take back control of immigration after Brexit. The non-binding vote demands Prime Minister Boris Johnson devolve powers on immigration to the Scottish Government to create a Scottish visa or Scottish migration system.
It will also push for an extension to the EU settlement scheme that gives EU nationals the right to remain in the UK after Brexit.
The deadline for the scheme was June 30 with the Home Office refusing to extend the official application time.
Ministers said anyone who made a late application would be unlikely to face penalisation and would be given time to submit the necessary paperwork.
The SNP has argued thousands could have slipped through the net and be at risk of deportation.
SNP shadow home secretary Stuart McDonald said: “The UK is rapidly heading towards another Tory Windrush scandal, as thousands of EU citizens face losing their right to live and work in the UK.
“It’s essential that there is an emergency extension to the EU Settlement Scheme – or better still the deadline should be scrapped altogether and EU citizens living in the UK should be given automatic indefinite leave to remain as they were originally promised.
“Boris Johnson has repeatedly broken his word – and he will bear the ultimate responsibility if thousands of EU citizens end up losing their rights.”
Despite the SNP’s claims, more than six million people have been granted settled status under the scheme, far more than the 3.5 million EU nationals who were thought to be living in Britain.
The party is claiming the EU settlement scheme is further proof of the need for Scottish independence to “protect our rights as EU citizens”.
Mr McDonald added: “Scotland’s message to EU citizens is you’re welcome here, we want you to stay, this is your home.
“These people are our friends, colleagues, neighbours, and family members.
“It is shameful that they are being treated in this way by the UK Government.
“The treatment of EU citizens is more evidence that Scotland is increasingly vulnerable under Westminster control.
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“The only way to keep Scotland safe is to become an independent country with the full powers to regain our place in Europe and protect our rights as EU citizens.”
Conservative MPs have been whipped to abstain on the vote.
The Prime Minister ordered his backbenchers not to engage with opposition votes earlier this year.
He accused Labour and the SNP of using the debates to stir up hatred against his MPs.
In January, Mr Johnson text his colleagues telling them not to vote against a Labour opposition day motion on an uplift of universal credit.
He said the party was using the matter as a way of “inciting” social media-based backlash “of a kind seen sadly across the Atlantic”, referring to the divisive political scene in the US.
Tonight’s debate on the EU settlement scheme is one of two motions put forward by the SNP.
The party will also hold a debate on the pandemic to call on “the Government immediately to commence the COVID-19 public inquiry”.
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