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Over Christmas, when very few people were paying attention, the Home Office put out a video and further information on its EU Settlement Scheme. Full of stock photos of smiling people, apparently having a whale of a time, the video provided a chilling and provocative reminder of the precarious situation EU nationals living within our community endure as we approach Brexit.

In a rare moment of clarity the Home Office confirmed that EU nationals would have to ‘apply’ to remain in the UK under the Settlement Scheme and a new menacing tone was introduced. The video detailed that criminal checks would be required and that specific data would be accumulated on EU nationals who have lived in the UK for decades. This time there was no dubiety about the cost. Every EU national without citizenship or leave to remain would have to pay the £65. Children would secure the ‘cut price’ cost of £32.50. The most invidious feature was the underlying threat that failure to comply or failing the ‘application’ could result in, well, who knows what…… It was as unsettling as it was sickening and sent alarm bells throughout the UK’s 3.6 million strong EU national community. 

I suppose we all knew that this day would come. Immigration and ending freedom of movement is the cold beating heart of their Brexit. Keeping people out and othering those from beyond our shores is the de facto case for leaving the European Union. The day of reckoning was never going to be pretty. Leave groups have to be pandered to and the new dawn of Brexitised UK has to be clearly understood. We are creating a new drawbridge society and those who have already made the journey here will have to know their place and fully understand why this Brexit has to be done. Ending freedom of movement is paraded as the main ‘prize’ of their Brexit. For these Brexit Tories, those that made the journey under FoM are an unfortunate consequence of something that pre Brexit Britain got so badly wrong. EU nationals are, I suppose, for the Brexit Tories, Britain’s big mistake. 

So far the Tories have been very careful to promote a culture of reassurance and comfort. A sort of ‘don’t worry your pretty little European head’ has been the tone and message. It was unsustainable. Promises of ‘no change’ to status and ‘everything will be the same’ can’t work when everything is to be completely different. Registration would always require applications and checks or there would be no point in any sort of registration at all. This is a Tory Home Office that created the ‘hostile environment’ its instincts are to start with suspicion and then work backwards from there. 


At least they are starting to be honest. Their draft immigration bill sets out clearly the type of nasty, intolerant Brexit UK they want to create. Everybody knows that EU nationals greatly contribute to our economy but that doesn’t matter a fig when there are Faragists to pander to. Scotland’s population growth is almost entirely predicated on immigration. We have a dependency ratio that is about the most acute in Western Europe. Ending freedom of movement will be disastrous for our economy and for the service sectors that soak up the majority of inward migration. We didn’t vote for this Tory Brexit but yet we will be the nation that will be most impacted from this, the main plank of their case for leaving.

I loathe their Brexit. Everything about it simply diminishes us. It is impossible to identify any redeeming feature of what the Tories are doing to us in this chaotic and clueless mission. But it is what they are doing to our friends and colleagues from Europe that makes me loathe their Brexit even more. 

As we shape up the sort of new country we want to be in Scotland we will assess everything that the Tories have done on immigration and vow to never, ever follow them down that souless, barren, self-defeating cul-de-sac. Scotland is better than this and soon we will show that to the world. 


  1. Pingback: Settled Status – – The Flag in the Wind

  2. Andy

    Hi Pete, happy new year to you, Can you tell me why is the brits abroad called ex pats but people who come here are called immigrants.

    1. Alan Page

      Pete may have another explanation, by my history master at the Public School I attended 50+ years ago claimed that the expression “ex-pat” came from the days of Empire: that British nationals living in the colonies were ex-patriate, latin for “out of the homeland”, and since then it has come to be applied to British nationals living anywhere abroad.

  3. Marguerita Morton

    Brits abroad never learn the language of their host country, so I think this adds to the feeling of isolation and fear of the ‘foreigner’. So leaving the only viable trade community in the world makes no sense. We share common values as well as culture and history. Finding a similar region to trade with on the same benefits is pie in the sky that politicians are fooling the nation with.

    1. Duncan Neil Crawford

      I lived in Germany and speak fluent German, as well as some French, some Spanish and some Italian, I also speak a little Dutch. I’m a Brit and a Scot from Glasgow. I also know many Brits who lived overseas and speakthe local language

    2. Jim Chalmers

      Jeg beklager, Marguerita, men jeg tror ikke at hvad du sier er tilfældet. Ligesom Duncan, er jeg skotte, men har boet i Norden i flere end 30 år, første i Norge og senere i Danmark. Jeg taler begge dansk og norsk rimelig flydende, og taler dansk uden besvære i alle formale og uformale situationer. Jeg kender en hel del andre briter i Danmark og dem som har været her flere end få år også taler mere eller mindre flydende dansk. Je parle aussi boaucoup de Francais, und ein bische Deutsch.

      I’m sorry, Marguerita, but I don’t think what you say is true. I am a Scot, like Duncan, but have lived in Scandinavia for more than 30 years; at first in Norway, then in Denmar. I speak both Danish and Norwegian reasonably fluently, speaking Danish without difficaulty in all formal and informal situations. I know quite a few other Brits in Denmark and those who have been here for more than a few years can also speak more or less fluent Danish. I also speak quite a lot of French and a little German.

  4. Ron Wilson

    Wonderful post, Pete, thank you.
    Most native born Scots have no idea of the stress and sense of betrayal that EU citizens are going through.
    Thankfully our government is on their side, the SNP are on their side, and soon all Scots, from wherever they hail, will have the opportunity to help choose another path as a progressive independent nation in Europe.

  5. Alan Page

    Having dual nationality (that of another EU Member State) has meant periodic sets-to with the Home Office regarding my status, as nobody there appears to read more than the first few lines of the file they apparently have on me. I sympathise with all EU citizens who find themselves in this unenviable position.

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