Stur­geon in £25m cit­i­zen­ship ‘stunt’ for EU public staff

First Min­is­ter of­fers cash to help work­ers stay in Scot­land

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose

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’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.