Kezia Dugdale calls for devolution of immigration powers post-Brexit

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 16 January 2017 in News

Scottish Labour leader says immigration policy should be devolved to allow “different parts of the United Kingdom to have immigration policy that meets their particular needs"

Kezia Dugdale - credit: Iain Gray MSP

​Kezia Dugdale has called for immigration to be devolved to allow countries and regions of the UK to attract workers post-Brexit.

With control over immigration currently reserved to Westminster, Dugdale used her speech at the David Hume Institute to call for immigration policy to be devolved to allow “different parts of the United Kingdom to have immigration policy that meets their particular needs”.

The Scottish Government’s Brexit strategy, Scotland’s place in Europe, calls for the UK to remain in the single market, while outlining options for Scotland to stay in the trade area if the UK pursues a hard Brexit.


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The strategy says there is “a strong and increasingly urgent case for greater flexibilities on immigration for different parts of the UK".

Dugdale suggested adopting a system similar to the one used in Canada, where Quebec has a special agreement allowing it to choose its own immigration rules.

She said: “We need to seriously consider the case for decisions about immigration being taken at a more local level, along the lines of the model that is in place in Canada.

“This would allow different parts of the United Kingdom to have immigration policy that meets their particular needs.

“The FreshTalent initiative – which was developed by the last Labour-led Scottish Executive – set the precedent that there can be different immigration arrangements for Scotland. It is disappointing that there hasn’t been the political will to make anything similar happen recently. 

“This proposal is attractive and one that Scottish Labour will look at in more detail in the coming months, including with colleagues from Canada and Quebec, and we will also look in detail at the recommendations of the APPG on Social Integration. 

“New governance arrangements across the UK, that give a greater role to devolved institutions, would create a new phase of devolution for our country.

“I believe this has to sit alongside a restatement of the partnership between Scotland and the UK in a new Act of Union, to modernise our Union for a new age.”

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