South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has called on Dumfries and Galloway’s Conservative MPs and MSPs to back the Scottish Government’s plans for a Scottish Visa – which would allow Scotland to take an independent approach to immigration.

Calls from the South Scotland MSP come after the UK Government refused the Scottish Government’s plans for the Scottish Visa system last week (Monday 27 January) stating that “immigration will remain a reserved matter” to the UK Parliament.

A range of stakeholder groups – including the National Framers Union Scotland, National Sheep Association and the Federation of Small Business – have backed the Scottish Government’s plan for a devolved Scottish visa system, piling pressure on the UK government to engage seriously with the proposals.

Ms Harper has written to all Dumfries & Galloway Conservatives – both MSPs and MPs – calling on them to stand up to their Westminster colleagues and to work with the Scottish Government to protect Scotland’s economy by backing these progressive proposals.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“The UK Conservative Government is only doing the bare minimum when it comes to Scotland – putting the narrow interests of their party above support for Dumfries & Galloway businesses and communities.

“The Home Office’s dismissive attitude to the Scottish Government’s forward-looking plan for a devolved Scottish visa system could not be a clearer warning for anyone expecting anything different. It shows just how out of touch the UK Government is with the needs of Scotland – particularly in areas such as Dumfries & Galloway which employs a large number of EU and international nationals in agriculture, hospitality and healthcare. The UK Government have little care over how Brexit will affect our economy and society.

“This is another reason why decisions over the future of Scotland should be taken here in Scotland – not by arrogant, out-of-touch Westminster governments that we didn’t vote for. The one-size-fits-all approach by the UK government simply doesn’t work for Scotland – and it’s time for people across Dumfries & Galloway to have a choice over their future.

“Conservative MSPs and MPs across Dumfries & Galloway – Finlay Carson, Alister Jack, Oliver and David Mundell – must urgently get behind these progressive plans for migration – to ensure that Dumfries & Galloway and South Scotland remains one of the best places to live and work and I have written to them about this.”