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by Louise Wilson
27 July 2023
First Minister Humza Yousaf would not keep British citizenship

First Minister Humza Yousaf would not keep British citizenship

First Minister Humza Yousaf would not retain dual Scottish-British citizenship if Scotland becomes independent. 

According to a new paper which sets out the Scottish Government’s approach to citizenship in an independent Scotland, those resident in Scotland would automatically become a citizen of Scotland. 

But people would also have an option to opt out of Scottish citizenship and retain sole British citizenship, have dual citizenship, or fully renounce their British citizenship and have only Scottish citizenship. 

Asked if he would keep his British citizenship, Yousaf said: “I’ve not thought much about it, but I probably wouldn’t.” 

He also said he would welcome people moving from the rest of the UK into Scotland in the period between a vote for Scottish independence and the day of independence in order to qualify for Scottish citizenship.  

He added: “We have demographic challenges, we have vacancies in a number of important sectors – private and public sector. We’re already working to try attract people from the UK to Scotland. I think we’d welcome that in that transition period, in the run-up to Scotland becoming an independent nation.” 

The report Citizenship in an independent Scotland, which is published today, is the fifth in a series of white papers setting out the case for leaving the UK. 

The paper also sets out the pathway for those not resident in Scotland on the day of independence to qualify for Scottish citizenship, including those with a close and enduring connection to Scotland. 

Other proposals include a fairer fee system for citizenship applications, based on cost recovery rather than revenue generation, and a commitment to establish an independent Migrants’ Commissioner. 

The first minister said: “In this country, we are used to feeling a mix of identities. As a proud Scottish Pakistani, that’s something I understand and respect, and the policies in this paper would not require anybody to choose between being Scottish, British, or any other nationality. 

“Instead, this paper proposes an open and inclusive approach to citizenship. One that welcomes people who want to settle in Scotland, rather than putting barriers and excessive fees in the way of individuals and their families.” 

Responding to the launch, the Scottish Conservatives accused the first minister of focusing on a “self-indulgent paper” instead of other issues. 

Constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said: “This paper is not only a blatant misuse of public money and resources by the SNP, but it also demonstrates how out of touch they are with the public. 

“Rather than wasting taxpayers’ money and civil servants’ time on pushing a divisive, party political agenda, a strong first minister would be concentrating on Scots’ real priorities – cost of living difficulties, unacceptable NHS waiting times and the ferries crisis.” 

Scottish Labour also accused the Scottish Government of being “out of touch” with Scots’ priorities.

Constitution spokesman Neil Bibby said: “Our NHS is in chaos and people are struggling to make ends meet during the worst cost of living crisis in decades – but as always the SNP-Green government is distracted by its constitutional obsession.

“Humza Yousaf is completely out of touch with Scotland’s priorities and bereft of new ideas.” 

The Scottish Greens, meanwhile, welcomes the paper. Co-leader Lorna Slater said: “This is a progressive and inclusive vision for citizenship, one that recognises people’s dignity and stands in stark contrast to the hostile environment and hurdles that have been put in place by successive UK governments. 

“This proposal says a lot about the kind of country we aspire to be: one that is welcoming, and generous. We want to include people, make them part of our community and let them know that they have value.” 

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