The Scottish government recently committed itself to a more liberal approach to immigration, in the event of Scottish independence. For demographic and economic reasons, Scotland faces distinct needs in the areas of immigration. The government is also keen to adopt a more humane approach to asylum and family migration. But the big question remains: would a future independent Scottish government be able to persuade its electorate of the wisdom of a liberalised approach?
This blog originally appeared on Scotland's Referendum blog
Christina Boswell, Edinburgh Professor of Politics and leading authority on the politics of migration, assesses the Independence White Paper’s prospectus for asylum and immigration. She argues that public opinion, and cross-border pressures from rUK and the EU may constrain the noble aspirations of the Scottish Government toward a more liberal policy.
The White Paper promises a change in the direction of travel in migration policy. In recent years the UK has enacted a number of measures restricting various migration flows, and the present government aims to reduce net migration—the difference between immigration and emigration—below 100,000 annually. The White Paper outlines a vision for a set of migration policies that encourage skilled migrants to come to and remain in Scotland, in order to meet different demographic and economic objectives, which it explicitly contrasts with the present “Westminster approach.”