Lib Dem Leader's Call To 'Stand Up For Immigration'

11 November 2017, 06:09 | Updated: 11 November 2017, 06:11

Willie Rennie Scottish Lib Dem Leader

Politicians who blindly back Brexit should be "sent home", not immigrants who have come from Europe to work in the UK, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats will tell party members.

Willie Rennie will use his key speech at the party's autumn conference in Dunfermline on Saturday to urge people across the country to "stand up for immigration".

His address is an attempt to kick-start a fresh debate on the controversial issue, with Mr Rennie arguing that the loss of EU citizens could have a devastating impact on the economy.

The Liberal Democrats campaigned to keep Britain in the European Union in 2016, and now want a second referendum to be held once the terms of the Brexit deal have been negotiated.

Mr Rennie will tell the conference the Tory government at Westminster will either "betray Leave voters" by back-tracking on promises to cut immigration after Brexit or "trash the economy".

This is the "real political car crash heading our way" he will add, saying: "If immigration is not cut with Brexit then Leavers will feel betrayed because that is what they voted for.

"If the Conservatives keep that promise, and immigration is cut, it will damage our economy and public services, and even more will feel betrayed because they were not told this would happen."

Voters in the referendum were not told the price of cutting immigration, Mr Rennie will say.

The leader will add: "The price is a shortage of workers to get food from British farms into the shops.

"The price is a shortage of carers, nurses and GPs. The price is billions of pounds of lost taxes from these jobs.

"They are already going home and Brexit has not even happened yet.

"Some say that too much immigration is a threat to our way of life. But the truth is that not enough immigration is the real threat to our way of life.

"It's not the workers from Poland, Romania or Bulgaria who we should fear. We should fear all those political leaders who are blindly backing Brexit. These are the people we should be sending home.

"The Conservatives do not want a debate over immigration. But we need it and that is what I am calling for today before it's too late.

"My call today is for people to stand up for immigration. Stand up to save our farms, universities and health service. We shouldn't be timid. We need this debate now."