Election debate: Greens and SNP make passionate case for immigration

Caroline Lucas and Angus Robertson defend freedom of movement, saying the tone of the debate 'shames us all'

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Indy Politics

Minority party leaders have made an impassioned defence of immigration, saying you are more likely to be treated by an immigrant in the NHS than stand behind them in the queue.

Speaking during the BBC election debate, Green party leader Caroline Lucas delivered a “proud defence” of freedom of movement. 

She denounced the “hate filled rhetoric” of fellow debate contestant, Ukip leader Paul Nuttall, saying: “I think free movement has been the most wonderful gift, the ability to travel, and work and live and love in 27 different members states and for them to come here. 

“Our country is enriched by people coming from other countries. The Britain I love is a confident outward facing country recognising that migration makes a massive positive contribution.”

The candidate for Brighton Pavilion dismissed the claim that immigration is the reason people cannot get a GP appointment, saying instead it is “because successive governments have not invested enough in our public services”.

She said: “If you are trying to see someone in the NHS you are more likely to see a migrant actually treating you as a doctor than ahead of you in the queue.”

Meanwhile, the SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson said he believed the tone of the current immigration debate “shames and demeans us all”.

He said: “I don’t think there is anyone in this room or anyone watching this debate from Cornwall to Caithness who does not understand the positive contribution that people have made to this land who’ve come from the rest of europe and the rest of the world.

“And demonising those people is totally unacceptable.”

The candidate for Moray called for Scotland to set its own immigration rules, following models in Canada and Australia, where individual states set their own policies. 

He said: “Scotland’s problem has never been immigration, it has been emigration. 

“Now it may be the case that there are different realities in different parts of the UK, I accept that, but in Scotland we value the contribution of people who come to our land. 

“We value refugees, who have sought refugee in our country and there is much more we can do to make sure people can stay in Scotland but we should also be to protect people who come there.”