A local politician has condemned the UK government’s plans to make EU nationals pay and answer questions if they wish to live in the UK after Brexit.
Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North said the plans were “outrageous” despite many having lived, worked and paid their way in the UK for years.
The criticism comes as the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes announced that EU citizens already living in the UK will have to pay up to £65 and answer questions to continue living and working in the country.
The SNP Scottish Government has already said that it would pay the so-called “settled status” fee of any EU citizen working in the public sector in Scotland.
There are around 181,000 EU nationals living in Scotland, and approximately 900 living in Paisley and Renfrewshire North. For the past two years, many of them have been left feeling uncertain about their future in the UK.
Mr Newlands, said: “It is outrageous that the UK government is demanding sums of money from EU nationals who have lived here for years, and whose presence makes an immensely positive contribution to the UK.
“Since the EU referendum almost two years ago, EU nationals have been left in limbo. Representatives from the organisations, 3million and the Irish in Britain, have recently said that EU citizens remain very anxious about their status and that the Windrush scandal has further dented their confidence in the Home Office.
“The Home Office and HMRC already have records of EU citizens living and paying their way in the UK. The SNP has called on the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes to abandon plans to charge a fee for people already living and working here. The principle should be that no EU citizen living in the UK should suffer as a result of the Brexit outcome, which they of course had no vote in.
“The Scottish Government has already pledged to pay the fee for people working in the Public Sector in Scotland the UK government should go further and abandon charging a fee altogether. There is no justification for forcing people already living and working here legally to pay a fee to confirm what the UK government already knows.
“EU nationals make a huge and valued contribution to our society – they benefit our economy, they play a vital role in our public services, and they make our society richer and more diverse – and this cynical move is yet another insight into the worrying direction the UK government is headed.”