Thousands of people who considered Scotland their home have been left fearing they have lost the right to stay here and that their lives are being torn apart. This morning they are waking up in a country they no longer recognise.
The UK government’s decision to force EU nationals to apply to remain in their homes is not just cruel and inhumane. It has also been a shambles. Time and again Boris Johnson refused to even countenance agreeing to pleas that the deadline be extended past midnight on Wednesday to deal properly with the staggering number of applications.
More than 50,000 people applied for ‘’settled status’’ on the last day. More than 5.5 million applications have been received in total.
The last-minute rush forced the UK government to take the action they had ruled out and extend the deadline … but only for nine hours.
Social media has been full of heart-breaking messages from those who face having to leave and those who desperately want them to stay
Its assurance that applications submitted before 9am on Thursday was hardly enough to calm the fears of those worried they could face deportation.
Social media has been full of heart-breaking messages from those who face having to leave and those who desperately want them to stay.
Michael Goulden @mikegoulden posts telling the story of his 83 year-old mother – who was originally from Germany, who worked for the British Army as a translator and who moved to the UK in 1962 – went viral.
She qualified as a teacher, raised two children and is a long-standing member of The Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She now has dementia and became upset when her son was going through the process to complete her application for her settled status.
Mr Goulden posted: ‘’A Britain that was once tolerant, generous and welcoming has morphed into a cruel, xenophobic, third-rate country under the monstrous government we now have. My mum has contributed so much to this country and this process is an insult to her and millions like her.’’
Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, posted: ‘’Tonight I light my #candleforcare thinking of and thanking all who come from #Europe to work in Scotland’s health and social care sectors.
These posts and thousands like them highlight the terrible pain being caused by a Westminster government determined to plough ahead with the very worst aspects of Brexit despite mounting unarguable evidence that it has been a disaster.
This is what Vote Leave promised us in 2016: ‘’There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.’’
Scotland’s message has always been at direct odds with Westminster’s inhumane moves to strip our friends and neighbours of their right to live and work in the country they love
It was a lie in a long list of lies about Brexit and in this week of all weeks the terrible truth has been laid bare for all to see.
Scotland’s message has always been at direct odds with Westminster’s inhumane moves to strip our friends and neighbours of their right to live and work in the country they love.
We have continually stressed that those who have come to Scotland from elsewhere in Europe are welcome here and contribute a huge amount to our economy and our culture. Our politicians have insisted that the need for settled status should be abandoned and this cruel treatment brought to an end.
But again and again we have been ignored.
Just as we were ignored when we voted against Brexit. Just as we were ignored when we argued for a softer form of Brexit which would protect our industries, our economy and our people. Even when we try to enshrine children’s human rights into law Westminster objects so much it takes our parliament to court to stop us.
The treatment of EU nationals is a stark confirmation that believing in Scotland and its independence offers a better, smarter, kinder alternative to the cruel and xenophobic country the UK has become.