Sturgeon vows Scotland will pay to let EU citizens stay after Brexit

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Posted by Geoff Bishop.

Written by Andrew Whitaker.

NICOLA Sturgeon has vowed to pay to keep EU citizens in Scotland after Brexit. The First Minister says that if they are forced to pay a fee to remain her government will cover the cost. Writing in the Sunday Herald, Sturgeon announced the dramatic move ahead of the start of SNP conference today.

She said the measure was needed to protect EU citizens from the “looming threat” of the Tories’ “extreme Brexit” plans. “Above all, it will send a clear message that EU citizens are welcome here,” Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon attacked the Tories’ “continued failure to offer complete, unequivocal guarantees on the rights of EU citizens living here”. This was “morally indefensible” and “economically short-sighted”, she said.

Theresa May has said that EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit will be offered a new “settled status”. However, they will all be required to apply for a special ID card granting them the right to live in Britain. A British embassy source told the Sunday Herald that the charge was expected to be similar to that for a UK passport, which is currently £72.50.

Sturgeon promised that if the UK Government decides to charge for that status, Scotland’s devolved public bodies will meet the costs.

She said: “Those EU nationals who are already living and working here under freedom of movement should not be made to jump through hoops to remain. The UK Government must guarantee their rights and make the process for staying here as simple and easy as possible – for example, people who are contributing to our country should not have to pay a fee to stay here. It is their right as EU citizens.

“But though we do not yet control immigration rules, the Scottish Government will act where we can. As a concrete example of that, I will confirm this week that if the UK Government imposes charges on EU citizens forced to apply for settled status, the Scottish Government will ensure that devolved public bodies meet these costs for those working in our public sector.