Free movement of people must be “redline” issue warns Green MSP

The Scottish Government must make the free movement of people from the UK to the EU, and vice versa, a redline issue in Brexit negotiations with the Westminster government according to a Green MSP.

Ross Greer MSP told the Scottish Parliament that if a free movement guarantee could not be given by the Conservative government, then Scotland must urgently consider seeking its own, independent EU membership.

Speaking in the debate entitled “Implications of the EU Referendum Result and UK Negotiating Position”, Green MSP Ross Greer said:

“Freedom of movement is an economic necessity for these islands. The net benefit of non-UK EU citizens in 2013-14 was 2.5 billion pounds. It is particularly essential for Scotland, where our aging population and relatively high rate of emigration means that we have welcomed with open arms those from across our continent – and beyond - who have chosen to live, work and study here.

“Freedom of movement is not just an economic tool. It is a statement of our principles. Of what kind of Europe we want to be and what we see as the very purpose of the European Project breaking down barriers between nations – to assert that there is much more in common between all Europeans – between all peoples – than that which divides us.

“A hard-Brexit and defaulting to World Trade Organisation rules is simply not tolerable. It is a line I believe Scotland is not willing to cross. And I would encourage the Scottish Government to maintain a negotiation position which values free movement of all people and to prevent the UK Government at every opportunity from negotiating a deal which puts the freedom of big business above the freedom of all citizens.”