Scottish Independence and Immigration

by Joseph McKeown


In Scotland's independence referendum this Thursday, a vote yes to secede from the United Kingdom will raise serious questions about Scottish currency, finance, where to base Britain’s fleet of nuclear submarines, the status of Scottish members of UK parliament, BBC television availability (not to mention UK flag design and what to call the rest of Britain) as well as, of course, immigration. 

The Scottish Government says that their "differing demographic and migration needs mean that the current UK immigration system has not supported Scotland’s migration priorities." If independent, the government would be enabled to "develop and operate a controlled, transparent and efficient immigration system that best meets Scotland’s needs and supports our future growth." Two initial issues the Scottish Government would address: a post-study work visa and lowering the current financial maintenance thresholds.

In general, what a yes vote for independence would mean:

  • The Scottish borders would remain open to all EU nationals, as it would be an EU member.
  • A Scottish Asylum Agency would be established to oversee applications.
  • Dungavel Detention Centre in Lanarkshire would be closed and dawn raids would be ended.
  • British citizens resident in Scotland would be Scottish citizens.
  • Citizenship by descent would be available to those whose parent or grandparent qualifies for Scottish citizenship.
  • Dual citizenship with the UK would be permitted.
  • UK passports would be recognised until...expiry.

Yes Scotland points out that all proposed changes would ultimately depend on who was elected in the Scottish Government.

The vote looks to be very close, and the immigrant vote in Scotland may turn out to be crucial. As both the pro-independence and pro-unity supporters campaign hard in these last days, the Queen said Sunday that voters should "'think very carefully about the future.'" James McAvoy doesn't want to divulge which way he will vote because of "career preservation." Sean Connery is for independence since a yes vote will allow "Scotland to develop and enrich its culture" and "compete with the best." Irish-American Stephen Colbert also says yes. Which way will the vote go? Perhaps this cloud has an answer.

UPDATE: The cloud was wrong. Scotland voted no on independence from the United Kingdom.