Nicola Sturgeon has warned of another secession vote if Scotland's views were not respected
A cross-party Scottish parliamentary committee said the demographic risk the country faces if the number of EU migrants falls is “more acute” for Scotland than for the UK as a whole.
Scotland, one of Britain’s four nations that voted to remain in Europe, relies heavily on young migrants to expand its workforce.
The committee looked at the economic impact of migration on Scotland, backing the stance of Nicola Sturgeon, who has warned another secession vote would be on the table if the country’s views were not respected.
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A 'hard Brexit' runs the risk of driving this valuable group of European citizens out of Scotland.
Committee convener Joan McAlpine
MSPs also insisted that Scotland’s declining population has seen a reversal following the arrival of EU migrants.
Citing evidence of the importance of EU migrants to a range of economic sector, the committee said: “The committee believes there are acute risks to Scotland of a loss of the existing EU migrants or a decline in future migration.
"This leads us to conclude that there has to be a bespoke – or differentiated – solution for immigration policy in Scotland in the future (which) should be fully explored by the Scottish government and raised by it in its discussions with the UK and other devolved administrations."
Theresa May says her priorities for Brexit include limiting immigration
According to the Scottish committee’s report, more than 30,000 EU migrants work in hotels, distribution or restaurants, with a further 20,000 employed across the public administration, education and health sectors.
Committee convener Joan McAlpine said: "The 181,000 EU migrants who have made their home in Scotland – not to mention Scots living in the EU – are effectively living in a state of limbo while they wait to hear what will happen to them after Brexit.
"EU migration has helped reverse a decline in the Scottish population, particularly amongst people of working age. A 'hard Brexit' runs the risk of driving this valuable group of European citizens out of Scotland.
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May's Brexit speech: World reacts LIVE Tue, January 17, 2017
Politicians and celebrities tweet their reaction as Theresa May unveils her 12 point plan for Britain leaving the EU.
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President of the European Council, Donald Tusk tweets his frustration.
"That will have a devastating effect on the communities where EU citizens have made their home, businesses and key sectors of our economy.
"We're therefore calling on the UK and Scottish governments to identify a differentiated solution for immigration policy in Scotland after Brexit as soon as possible."
Theresa May has said, however, that her negotiating priorities for Brexit include limiting immigration and ending single market membership – a membership Scotland wants to keep.
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