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  By Anne-Marie O’Donnell
 
The Westminster government’s “misguided, misleading and inflammatory” language on immigration is damaging Scotland’s image abroad, an MEP has claimed.
 
SNP MEP Alyn Smith (pictured) condemned the UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent call for a change to the law to exclude Polish people from receiving child benefit while working in Britain and said the continued rhetoric against immigration was by default painting Scots in a poor light.

Mr Cameron’s comments prompted an angry response from Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who vowed his country would veto any proposal to amend European law “today, tomorrow and forever”.

“We knew Scotland could do better than this, but it looks increasingly like we could hardly do worse,” said Mr Smith. “It is the job of politicians to face down ignorance and prejudice, not pander to and inflame it.

“We’ve known for months that the UK government’s deeply misguided, misleading and inflammatory language on immigration is losing the UK – and for the moment that includes Scotland – friends.  But evidence is rapidly mounting that they are making us enemies too, and storing up real trouble for the future.

“The UK government, led by the Tories but facilitated by the increasingly wretched LibDems, is simply damaging the UK’s reputation and we cannot stand still and let them paint a misleading picture of an unwelcoming and xenophobic Scotland along the way.  There will be real and, I fear, grave consequences to this as the UK drifts towards the EU exit.

“People in Scotland are known for the warmth of their welcome; we benefit from people coming to our country to travel, work and study and we must distance ourselves from Tory government policies,” he added. “From the very depth of my soul, anyone who lives in Scotland is Scottish in my eyes.”

Currently, migrant EU workers who have left their home countries to find work in the UK can claim the support of child benefit if their children still live outwith the UK.  On Sunday, Mr Cameron said it was “wrong” that someone from Poland was entitled to claim UK child benefit while working in the UK, although he added that he was “absolutely all in favour” of migrants working in Britain and contributing to the economy.

In response, Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, condemned the comments on Twitter: “If Britain gets our taxpayers, shouldn’t it also pay their benefits? Why should Polish taxpayers subsidize British taxpayers’ children?” he asked.

The news follows recent changes which mean Bulgarian and Romanian workers now have the right to work in the UK, a change effective from 1 January 2014, and fears of rising xenophobia in Britain.  In anticipation of the change, the British government rushed through legislation to restrict migrants from the two EU states receiving unemployment benefits in a bid to prevent “benefit tourism”.

It’s thought Britain could expect up to between 30,000 and 70,000 migrants each year. However, one Romanian woman, a student at the Bucharest University of Economics and Cybernetics, told the AFP news agency said people in her country were reluctant to settle in the UK because of “discriminating comments” against them.

Other countries to lift restriction on Bulgarian and Romanian migration as of 1 January include Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Spain and The Netherlands.

Comments  

 
#
cynicalHighlander
2014-01-08 23:30

French study questions whether Catalonia could be expelled from the European Union: archive.is/G0xAH

Quote:

—He remarks upon the fact that the European Union is defined constitutionall  y not just as a union of states but also as a union of citizens, and affirms that stripping Catalans and Scots of their European citizenship would go against constructive legal rulings of the European Court of Justice.

 
 
#
DonaldMhor
2014-01-09 00:42

Anyone that threatens the cosy Londoncentric consensus is fair game now. FMQs today saw Cameron sneering once more at Angus Robertson and calling him a lackey. You could be forgiven for thinking he wants Scotland gone. He is a cheap shot PM and a light weight as described by Obama.
 

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