East Lothian Courier – 29 July 2021


Parliaments final week before recess was a rerun of what had gone the week before. Then the debate had been about international aid, this time it was on Immigration and Asylum seekers. Once again, the views of Scots and the needs of Scottish society and its economy were ignored.

No one was suggesting that immigration laws aren’t required. Every nation needs to have them and they can sometimes be challenging but remain essential. However, they must reflect the values of a society and support its wellbeing.

It’s not just Scots but many south of the border who are appalled at the Home Secretary’s heartlessness on refugees and asylum seekers. After all English society has seen previous waves of those fleeing oppression welcomed, whether French Huguenots, East European Jews fleeing pogroms and Basque children being evacuated from Fascist Spain. All made the country a better place.

Yet now Priti Patel seeks to criminalise modern counterparts, often fleeing wars in which the UK has played a part. Not all may qualify for asylum and some may need to be returned. But the overwhelming majority are genuine and given what they’ve endured should be treated with compassion.

Moreover, Scotland has an ageing population and we need young people. The Glasgow Girls and other asylum seekers have made our country better. We need more of them not laws to reject or criminalise them.

The fallout from Brexit continues whether labour or food shortages. But the suggestion by the Tory Government that they didn’t know what they were signing is bizarre. They’d teams of negotiators and diplomats. They read the small print but signed anyway.

It’s now a done deal and an international deal at that. It’s not just an HP contract that a consumer would sign for a TV or suite. And it can’t just be revoked or wished away, any more than someone changing their mind could. The consequences for the country are severe if they do and its why President Biden has given warning. They need to renegotiate to resolve it, not prance around and whine. Diplomacy not dictat’s needed and fast.