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To those of us in favour of a No vote for unity and solidarity, the result of the Scottish referendum is a huge relief. My own sentiments were a mixture of emotion and fear. As the child of a Scottish mother and English father I have been raised to be British, never English or Scottish. I was proud to wear my kilt at my wedding and have many relatives and friends on both sides of the border. I would have been entitled to Scottish citizenship had the vote gone the other way. At the same time, I have been shaped primarily by the English education system and experience. I felt like my country and identity — one that I have always felt was by its very nature more inclusive than mere Englishness or Scottishness — was about to disappear.

I was also hugely fearful that progressive forces in the remainder of the United Kingdom would be massively and perhaps fatally wounded by separation from our Scottish comrades. Independence for Scotland would have unleashed quiescent but nasty English nationalism and consigned the vulnerable in the remainder of the United Kingdom to ever more miserable lives.

These are not the concerns of Scottish nationalists, but I know they are the concerns of Scottish progressives who look beyond their borders. Together we have to fight the reactionary and exploitative Coalition government that is ruining lives right across our shared country. Scots have done so much good south of their border and, as the Yes campaign showed, the passion and commitment of many Scots is a fearsome and invaluable weapon in a cause.

In my own field of migrants rights there is much work to be done. The awful Immigration Act 2014 is coming into effect. Citizenship deprivation provisions and additional search and detention powers have already been introduced. Landlord ‘papers please’ checks on tenants are to be tested in the Midlands this autumn and will create division and suspicion there – and everywhere if the pilot is expanded after the election in 2015. Appeal rights will be scythed for migrants in October. This Act is a new level of nasty.

Speaking personally, the energy of the Yes campaign in Scotland and the huge stakes have been a wake up call. Equally, I have been horrified by the passivity and inertia of many. We must work together to fight and win, to roll back these draconian changes and to realise our shared British values of inclusiveness, openness, tolerance and welcome.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.


11 Responses

  1. I don’t know about progress. But I’m willing to fight for the status quo as I interpret it (Human Rights ACT, ECHR, UNCRC etc).

    1. Although there is one issue where I am a determined reactionary: I believe the law should be that every child born in the United Kingdom is a British Citizen, which means I’m about 35 year behind the times!

    2. Anyone relying on the 20 year rule at the moment could have qualified under the 14 year rule had they made an application in time…

  2. Hi FM and PT, An emollient bit in the Act?: 117B Article 8: public interest considerations applicable in all cases

    (6)In the case of a person who is not liable to deportation, the public interest does not require the person’s removal where—

    (a)the person has a genuine and subsisting parental relationship with a qualifying child, and

    (b)it would not be reasonable to expect the child to leave the United Kingdom.

    1. That bit of the act is now law and I support it (though really “qualifying” could have been left out).
      The act isn’t completely bad. No longer we will we have to go to court to force the Home office to decide to remove our clients. Overstayer human rights applications will have a right of appeal. A lot will depend on interpretation.

    2. I agree. “No longer we will we have to go to court to force the Home office to decide to remove our clients” is no good for people relying on 20 year rule.

  3. What is your opinion where the child is less than 7 years old but but was born in the UK; The child’s family are relying medical grounds to regularise their stay. The child was born with a congenital cardiac problem and had already underwent 2 open surgeries. Although the child is currently appears OK, the child’s consultant advised in his letter to Home Office that the child’s future is coloured with the fact that if urgent treatment is needed, such is not available in the country to which the family will be removed to. The Home office has refused the family based on the Immigration rules put in place on 9th July 2012 – Appendix FM and paragraph 276ADE(1) and stated no exceptional or compelling grounds to grant leave to remain under article 3 and 8 as well as Section 55 BCIA Act 2009. Appeal granted to the family but not the child. Home Office stated that the child had not leave to remain in UK hence no appeal right. What is your opinion about this decision and in the light of the new Act?

    1. So, no removal decision? (With removal decision there would be right of appeal for child as there was a human rights application made for the child (being named as dependant in an application counts for this purpose)- and you should fill out an appeal form for the child and raise the matter as preliminary issue in the grounds).

      If no removal decision but there is an appeal because the family had leave to remain at time of application then you can try to add the child as a dependant on the appeal (as opposed to a separate appellant).

      As for the main issue you are arguing there *are* exceptional circumstances: removal would be against best interests of the child. Plenty of case law says tribunal must consider these first, even if it later decides they are outweighed.

  4. Well, Colin, as an immigrant married to a Scot, I hope you can understand me and my family’s massive disappointment that the Yes vote didn’t go through. I don’t want to be shackled to Theresa May’s laws and the increasingly immigrant-hating attitudes down south that you have mentioned here. “No borders” is a nice sentiment, but the fact is that my Scottish husband knows that there is very little he can do to change things politically with the way the government is set up now, and he hates that he has been kicked out of his own country by a government he did not vote for. We’re living in Ireland right now because of Westminster’s immigration laws.
    “No borders” indeed.
    The White Paper outlined some nice nods in the way of tolerance towards immigrants, and when I saw that possibility dashed, I wanted to throw up. My husband cried when the results were announced, because he wanted so badly to live in a country where his vote mattered, where he might be able to do something to make his wife more welcome. Where I wouldn’t have my healthcare stripped from me, where I wouldn’t be subject to those humiliating landlord ‘check-ups’.
    I just find it odd that you can talk about the ‘huge relief’ and being proud to be ‘British’, and then a paragraph later launch into lamenting the brutality of the new immigration act. I hope you can understand my lack of ‘relief’ at hearing that, instead of (hopefully) returning one day to a country without those laws, we will (hopefully?) be returning to a country with those laws firmly in place, with the likelihood of worse on the way.
    You speak of the good that Scotland has done, spreading its progressive influence down south (though from where I’m standing, it’s hard to see any of that supposed influence). But can you tell me that England has returned any of that favor? With the lovely gift of the Bedroom Tax, Trident, and all those taxes extracted with less returned for Scotland’s own budget? With my Scottish family paying the price for London’s anti-immigrant fervor?

    Maybe Scotland doesn’t want to be England’s progressive appendage.

    Your blog has done me and my husband a lot of good. I find your legal analysis easy to understand, well thought-out, and a big help to people under the heel of Westminster’s immigration laws.
    I hope you can understand our disappointment. Because if someone as progressive, insightful, and helpful as you doesn’t understand our crushed hopes, I don’t know if the rest of the UK will understand.
    Someday, maybe, I will be able to vote in Scotland, and you can count on me to campaign for independence, even if it’s just me and my husband waving a lone Yes flag in the middle of George Square.
    But I bet it won’t be just us.

    1. I think I can understand your disappointment and pain. I had difficulty sleeping in the run up to the vote and it was incredibly important to me as well. I would be inconsolable if the result had gone the other way, and I’m sure many Yes supporters feel the same way. I fear that I would have felt very bitter if the result has been a ‘Yes’.

      There are many British citizens right across the United Kingdom who are being betrayed and hurt by the current politicians in Westminster. I didn’t vote for the current lot either and I consider much of their agenda profoundly ‘un British’, particularly the Immigration Act 2014 and its ‘papers please’ approach to enforcement.

      The Tories need to be fought and stopped from ruining more lives right across the UK, not just in Scotland. I’m sorry to put it like this, but my concerns are not so narrow and I do not see the separation of people by a new border as being a sensible or good solution to dealing with the separation of other people. I prefer solidarity and joint struggle rather than split and division.

      I hope that it works out for you and your husband and that our shaming immigration laws can be overcome. It gives me real pleasure and satisfaction that the information I’ve provided has been useful, and I’m really grateful for your taking the time to say so as well – it is the few bits of feedback like that which I get that makes it worthwhile.

      For the record, London is in fact a very welcoming and multicultural city where attitudes to migrants are very progressive. Some parts of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not so welcoming. There are bad apples everywhere, but perhaps less of them in Scotland than elsewhere!

    2. “papers please”. Yes. If you were born abroad or (I suppose) after 1982 and lose your identity papers, the assumption is automatic that you are an “illegal immigrant”…

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