UK immigration expert flags up potential issues with Scottish independence

26 Sep 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

An expert on UK immigration issues has flagged up concerns over the impact of an independent Scotland on access to UK visas and related policies.

Professor Bernard Ryan, from Leicester University, explained that an independent Scotland could result in the UK removing British citizenship rights from Scotland with “no personal connection to the rest of the United Kingdom”.

In a paper for the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Ryan observed: “The Scottish Government has indicated its acceptance of the possibility of dual nationality and it is to be presumed a post-referendum United Kingdom would do so too.

“It does not follow, however, that dual nationality would be available to all persons who were British citizens prior to independence, and who then became Scottish citizens.”

He added that post-referendum agreement between the governments in Westminster and Edinburgh would “probably prove necessary” on immigration issues.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government told the Scottish Herald: “Many people in Scotland have ties to the rest of the UK, and elsewhere, including familial, social and economic connections. An independent Scotland will offer dual citizenship, reflecting the continuing social union amongst the peoples of these islands and our links with countries further afield.”

Drew Smith, constitutional spokesman for Scottish Labour, added that it's “hard to believe” that Alex Salmond and the SNP have not given sufficient thought to the immigration issues that will arise should the country gain independence following the referendum in September 2014.

One matter the SNP has spoken up about is its intention for Scotland to join the UK and Ireland's common travel area, rather than the Schengen zone, which benefits most other EU countries.