Sunday, 30 March 2014

Scotland independence and the impact on border controls and immigration policy

My debate with the SNP today on the Sunday Politics featured discussion of immigration controls, and the impact of both a split currency and trade between the 2 nations if Scotland were to go independent.  My argument is that there is a significant difference between controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as shown on the debate. The reason is simple. Both parts of Ireland are part of the EU common travel area. An independent Scotland would not be.

On Border controls this is what my boss, Theresa May, recently said on the issue:
"If the people of Scotland vote to leave the UK there would be profound changes for migration policy. An international border would be created where one does not currently exist. This would have implications for people travelling to visit family, go on holiday or do business, and for our economies more generally.
Alex Salmond's white paper has the admission that, just like the last Labour government, a separate Scotland would pursue a looser immigration policy. That would undermine the work we have done since 2010, and the continuing UK could not allow Scotland to become a convenient landing point for migration into the United Kingdom."

The Scottish government's independence white paper said that Scotland should try to join the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland, which allows free movement between both countries. But this is conditional on Scotland dropping plans to have more liberal, open immigration rules than the UK.

We already know that a yes vote would mean that, when it became separate, Scotland would no longer be part of the EU, and EU President  JosĂ© Manuel Barroso has been quite clear that it would be impossible for an independent Scotland to join the EU Common Travel Area, while it negotiated independence from the UK. In reality, the Scots would require an agreement from the countries of the EU, and the French, Spanish and southern EU countries have made their position very clear on this issue. As always, with the Scots on these debates there is an element of wanting to keep their cake and want to eat it at the same time. The UK has gone to great efforts to create proper border controls. The Scots want to be independent, and a country out of the EU but uniquely in the EU want to have post independence:
- a different immigration policy,
- and a common travel area following independence.
You cannot have both say not just the UK, but others in the EU. I will post the BBC Debate on Iplayer when it goes up.