UK immigration policies 'damaging Scottish economy'

20 May 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Humza Yousaf, a Scottish minister, has suggested that UK immigration policies are having a damaging impact on Scotland's economy.

The external affairs minister noted that Westminster's “restrictive” approach to immigration has not been welcomed in Scotland, explaining that the country is keen to welcome skilled overseas employees on Tier 2 work permits.

Yousaf's comments, which follow the recent Queen's Speech announcing plans for the next term in government, underlined a rejection of the proposed immigration bill.

The minister told the BBC: “There's no doubt that the UK government's restrictive immigration policies are damaging Scotland's economy, but also the general message that Scotland is open for those who are wanting to come overseas to make a skilled contribution to Scotland.

"Immigration is one of the only policy issues that I can think of that unites Scottish business, the trade unions, politicians, the universities - because they're all feeling the impact of restrictive immigration policies.”

Yousaf has also been working to build relations between Scotland and other wealthy countries independently from the efforts of the Westminster government. He is currently embarking on a trade trip to Qatar after receiving an invitation to speak at this year's Doha Forum, which discusses matters including, development, democracy and free trade in the Middle East.

The minister observed: “I am keen to continue strengthening Scotland's relations with Qatar, to the mutual benefit of both our countries. Over the past decade, Scottish companies have exported £470 million worth of goods and services to Qatar and we are seeking to be even more ambitious.”

He added that the two countries share a trade in the gas and oil industry but noted that the “friendship is based on so much more than economics: we have bonds across a range of sectors, in particular academia and culture”.