Businesses and EU nationals to share Brexit concerns with Migration Minister

Scotland’s Migration Minister will visit concerned businesses and meet EU nationals to discuss freedom of movement after Brexit.

Ben Macpherson is due to visit Hardgrove dairy farm in Dumfries and cheesemakers in Lockerbie later on Wednesday.

The businesses have “consistently expressed concern” about the risk of disruption if the UK leaves the European Union.

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A spokesman for Arla Foods said: “We are delighted to host the Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development at Lockerbie today.

“Arla Foods has consistently expressed concern about the impact of any disruption associated with Brexit on our farmers, our consumers and our colleagues, and we are very happy to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with the minister during his visit.

“Across Arla we have around 500 European nationals who are valued members of our team and EU citizens are also a very important part of the workforce on farms and across our supply chain.

“In addition to giving practical advice and support wherever we can, we are committed to working with the minister and other stakeholders to ensure we are best-placed to retain the colleagues that we have, and maintain access to a motivated and skilled labour force in future, enabling us to continue to deliver much-loved dairy products to consumers across the UK.”

The meetings follow an open letter from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday telling EU citizens they are still welcome in Scotland and encouraging them to remain.

Ahead of his visit to Arla Foods’ creamery, Mr Macpherson warned of worker shortages if the employment rights of EU citizens are affected by Brexit.

Mr Macpherson said: “EU nationals living and working in Scotland are our friends, neighbours, colleagues and loved ones – they are part of the fabric of our nation and it is absolutely vital that they feel welcome and supported to stay.

“In communities across Scotland, EU nationals enrich our society and are fundamental to the strength of our economy, both now and in the future.

“What’s more, without EU nationals making such a significant contribution, we would face workforce shortages in the south of Scotland and other areas, and in several sectors like agriculture, education, construction and health and social care services.

“We would face workforce shortages in both urban and rural areas.”

He added: “The Scottish Government is committed to supporting EU nationals through the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.

“To assist in this, we encourage all employers, public bodies and civil society to provide what support they can as part of a nationwide Stay in Scotland campaign.”