Sturgeon in £25m citizenship ‘stunt’ for EU public staff
First Minister offers cash to help workers stay in Scotland
NICOLA Sturgeon has pledged up to £25 million to help public sector workers from the EU living in Scotland secure British citizenship.
She claimed some have already chosen to leave over fears for their future, despite UK Government guarantees.
The Scottish Conservatives yesterday said the offer was a ‘stunt’.
The SNP estimates that 20,000 EU citizens work in Scotland’s public sector. Applications for naturalisation cost £1,282 – which means the bill could reach £25.64million.
Miss Sturgeon will outline the plans at the SNP party conference on Tuesday. Speaking ahead of its opening in Glasgow today, the First Minister said: ‘The Conservatives’ continued failure to offer complete, unequivocal guarantees on the rights of EU citizens living here is not only morally indefensible, it is also economically short-sighted.
‘EU citizens contribute to our economy, work in universities, teach in schools and work in our health service.
‘After 18 months many still do not have the answers they seek – as a result, some are choosing to leave and others, who would have been attracted to the UK and Scotland, no longer wish to come here. That is a disgrace.’
She will also promise to work with private sector companies on ways that their EU workers can be offered the same support.
However, the UK Government offered guarantees to EU citizens in June.
Those who arrived before Article 50 was triggered on March 29 and have lived here for five years will get residence status.
If not, they can apply for temporary status to remain until they have been here five years, and then secure permanent status.
A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said: ‘This is a stunt from the SNP designed to stoke up unfounded fears about Brexit. By doing this the SNP is actually making EU nationals feel less secure, and that is a disgrace.’
It is not the first time the SNP has been accused of scaremongering over Brexit.
In July last year it sent letters targeting EU nationals. Hundreds of people were contacted about ‘uncertainty’ over their right to live in Scotland. They included German-born Helga Hunter, who moved to Scotland two decades before the EU was formed, married a Scot and therefore had indefinite leave to remain. She had worked and raised three children here.
The letter warned: ‘While there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances I appreciate there remains great uncertainty over how events will unfold.’
Mrs Hunter, who worked as a carer in Broughty Ferry for 22 years, said at the time: ‘This obviously casts doubt in my mind. I’m 68 now so I can’t start a new life somewhere else.’
Miss Sturgeon has gambled on a bad Brexit reigniting her independence dream and will hope that an offer worth £1,282 per adult will be remembered when Scotland goes to the polls again.
‘DISGRACE’: Many EU citizens work in the public sector, such as teachers in schools, and Miss Sturgeon is ‘stoking unfounded fears’