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Specialised passport for Scots could ensure free movement between Scotland and Europe post-Brexit

ByJacquelyn Voghel

Nov 25, 2016

In response to the impending implementation of Brexit, UK academics have proposed plans for a specialised passport that would allow Scots to continue to benefit from free movement throughout Europe, The Herald reported.

The proposal was initiated by Damian Chalmers and Anand Menon, professors at King’s College London. If passed, it will involve Scottish citizens receiving their national insurance (NI) numbers from the Scottish government, rather than the UK. Using these NI numbers, Scots would then be able to apply for jobs across Europe.

Chalmers and Menon expressed interest in the idea of a specialised Scottish passport just over a month after the Brexit referendum results came out. They published a policy-brief through the Open Europe organization in July.

The brief described a ‘Three Step Brexit Solution’, which detailed that “Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland will need a closer relationship with the EU than other parts of the UK.”

Chalmers and Menon went on to state: “Free movement could be secured by the Scottish Parliament being made responsible for the issue of National Insurance numbers which would have validity only in Scotland.

“Equally, citizens on the electoral roll in Scotland could be granted documents additional to their passports which could serve to secure them free movement in the rest of the European Union.”

Scottish academics Nina Miller Westoby, an ESRC Doctoral Researcher at the University of Glasgow and former research fellow at the University of Edinburgh Law

School, and Professor Jo Shaw of the University of Edinburgh Law School, have since added their voices to the conversation.

The two academics were quoted in The Herald as referring to the possibility of Scottish free movement in post-Brexit Europe as “more plausible than at first blush”.

“Increasingly immigration control is taking place within the UK, in situ, for example by landlords obliged to confirm residence status before renting property, rather than traditional immigration control at the border, and this may be a means in which a differentiated immigration approach is developed,” they continued.

“An example that has been mooted by Chalmers and Menon amongst others proposes that the Scottish Parliament become responsible for the issue of NI numbers and thereby develop a system where NI numbers are granted to EU and European Economic Area citizens which are only valid in Scotland.”

Although various academics and economists stand in favour of Scotland’s continued connections to the EU economy, some experts, such as Kirsty Hughes, have expressed doubts over such a plan becoming reality.

Hughes stated to The Herald that: “If Scotland wants either just migration policy and free movement or the whole single market shebang, how could Prime Minister Theresa May agree to that before knowing what the UK-EU deal was?”

And if by any chance the EU was ready to let Scotland be in the single market, it would want too to understand how that would mesh with the rest of the UK having a different deal when it has no border with Scotland,” Hughes elaborated.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government, however, was also quoted by The Herald as stating that the idea “will inform our thinking as we prepare to publish specific proposals on maintaining Scotland’s place in Europe, including our continued place in the single market.”


Image: astrid westvang

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