EU policy has "grave consequences for Scotland"
Scottish MEP Alyn Smith has highlighted mounting evidence of the negative consequences of the UK government's xenophobic rhetoric, which has resulted in the Polish Prime Minister announcing that he will block any British changes to EU migration rules.
These comments have deepened a hitherto domestic shallow political row into a major EU impasse. The actions of the UK government have also led to the Polish Deputy PM calling on Polish MEPs to boycott the Tory group in the European Parliament.
SNP MEP Alyn Smith said:
"We know Scotland could do better than this, but it looks increasingly like we could hardly do worse. It is the job of politicians to face down ignorance and prejudice, not pander to and inflame it.
"We've known for months that the UK government's deeply misguided, misleading and inflammatory language on immigration is losing the UK - and for the moment that includes Scotland - friends. But evidence is rapidly mounting that they are making us enemies too, and storing up real trouble for the future. Recent UK political comments about EU migration sparked an outcry in countries like Poland, where the PM Donald Tusk vowed to block any future changes to EU laws preventing migrant workers from having access to welfare benefits. He rightly said that no one has the right to single out Poles as a special group that is abusing or taking advantage of the system.
"This announcement comes shortly after Deputy Prime Minister, Janusz Piechociński, called on Poland's largest opposition party to cease working with the Conservatives in the European Parliament and quit the European Conservatives and Reformists group in protest against David Cameron's negative references to Polish citizens.
"The UK government, led by the Tories but facilitated by the increasingly wretched LibDems, is simply damaging the UK's reputation and we cannot stand still and let them paint a misleading picture of an unwelcoming and xenophobic Scotland along the way. There will be real and, I fear, grave consequences to this as the UK drifts towards the EU exit.
"People in Scotland are known for the warmth of their welcome; we benefit from people coming to our country to travel, work and study and we must distance ourselves from Tory government policies. I studied in Warsaw, and was proud to speak at the launch of Polish for Yes in Edinburgh in November. I said then and I'll repeat today, Scotland is welcoming and people are welcome. For people to pay us the supreme compliment of coming to live, study, work, raise children, pay taxes and be part of our national life is a fantastic thing. From the very depth of my soul, anyone who lives in Scotland is Scottish in my eyes."