by Bev Haigh-Jones
It is probably common knowledge that there is no love lost between Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson and that they have very different views on political issues, particularly on Brexit and Scottish independence.
Normally, these differences do not directly impact those of us living in England to a significant degree and often, I suspect, many English people pay little heed to Nicola Sturgeon’s comments, or public announcements. However, she recently made one such announcement which should be of interest to all UK residents, whatever their nationality.
Leaving the EU has had devastating consequences for a great number of people, UK and EU nationals alike, and one of the major areas of impact has been the need for EU citizens to apply for Settled, or Pre-Settled status in order to legally remain in the UK. It came as a great shock to many that this requirement exists, even when someone has been resident here for a great many years. It can apply to people who own homes here, run businesses, or even to children who were born here and have never known any other.
Westminster government, under the leadership of Boris Johnson, has given scant regard to the welfare of people affected by these new requirements and has pushed ahead regardless. Other countries, such as Germany and France, extended deadlines for UK citizens in their countries to apply for leave to remain, but not so the UK. Not only do our government insist that deadlines are maintained, (apart from a brief grace period for existing applications to get through the system), but they also refuse to provide any form of written proof of a person’s status. The fact that they now wish to insist that all UK citizens provide photographic ID before they can vote in an election does smack somewhat of double standards!
In comparison, please look at the statement made by Nicola Sturgeon recently concerning EU nationals in Scotland. https://www.facebook.com/theSNP/posts/10159560996529078
Unlike England, Scotland realises the contribution that is made by EU nationals, understands that they are real people just like us and that when they have lived somewhere for many years, that place is their home. A person who has been in the UK for the majority of their life should not be forced to beg for permission to remain, or face being sent to country that they may not have even set foot in for many years. For all her nationalist tendencies, Nicola Sturgeon at least appears to possess humanity and compassion, something sadly lacking in our government. Even if the speech was partially motivated by political one-upmanship and a wish to show Johnson and his government up for what they are, the sentiment has to be applauded.