A Year Of Uncertainty For EU Nationals Disgraceful, Warns Sturgeon

23 June 2017, 14:07

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

It is ''disgraceful'' it has taken a year for the UK Government to offer reassurance to European Union nationals about their status after Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland's First Minister said she welcomed in principle the proposals for EU citizens in the UK set out by Theresa May, but cautioned the ''devil will be in the detail''.

The Prime Minister said the plans outlined to a European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday will ensure no-one living lawfully in the UK will have to leave and EU nationals will not face the prospect of their families being split up by Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon told the BBC: ''I think we really need to see the detail of what she's proposing because the devil will be in the detail.

''It's not just about the right of people here to stay, but the real question is over what the cut-off point will be, what the situation will be for family members of EU nationals, and of course how their rights are to be protected in future.

''As a general principle I welcome it so far as it goes. I don't understand why it's taken a year for the UK Government to give the commitment that she appeared to give last night but I think we will need to see the detail before there can be a considered view of whether or not it goes far enough.

''It's taken a year to get to this point and I think that's disgraceful because the uncertainty that that's caused for EU nationals has been considerable and I think we will already have seen some choose to leave because of that uncertainty.''

Ms Sturgeon marked the first anniversary of the EU referendum with a speech at the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston, Edinburgh.

Addressing an audience of representatives from the agricultural industry, Ms Sturgeon urged the UK Government to adopt a more inclusive approach to the Brexit negotiations, and repeated calls for powers over agriculture policy to return to the Scottish Parliament when repatriated from the EU.

She said: ''The immediate priority for action is to work with anyone and everyone - including the UK Government and other political parties - to ensure that the UK as a whole adopts the least damaging approach possible.

''And of course in doing that, we know that there are particular issues and complexities relating to farming.

''That includes proposals to see all powers repatriated from Brussels go to the UK Government rather than to the devolved administrations, including those in currently devolved areas like agriculture and fishing.

''Those plans would fundamentally undermine the basis of the existing devolution settlement, which has seen farming and fisheries devolved to Holyrood from day one.

''Those powers, as well as others in devolved policy areas, must be returned to the Scottish Parliament, not to Westminster.''