Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson tells foreign workers they are welcome in the UK

'Behind discussions of numbers and rules and criteria, there lies people and home and families,' Ms Davidson tells Tory Conference

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The Independent Online

The Scottish Conservative Party leader has said immigrants should be made to feel welcome in the UK.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Opposition in the Scottish Parliament, used her keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference to remind the Tories that "people and homes and families" lay behind debates on immigration.

Speaking to a packed hall in Birmingham, Ms Davidson urged Theresa May's government to be "internationalist in outlook" and told economic migrants who have moved to the UK they were "welcome here".

She said. "As we have difficult and necessary debates about how we manage borders and futures, let us not forget that behind discussions of numbers and rules and criteria, there lies people and home and families.

"And for those who have already decided to build a life, open a business, make a contribution, I say: this is your home and you are welcome here.

"The Conservative Party I know is optimistic in spirit and internationalist in outlook. We are outward looking people and so we must remain."

Her comments came after International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said immigrants who come to Britain and "consume" its wealth or arrived "without ever creating anything" were not welcome.

Mr Fox told the Tory Conference hours before: “If you ask the British people what they think in general about immigration they would say people who come to our country, who contribute wealth to our country are welcome.

“People who come to the country and consume the wealth of the country without ever having created anything are a different kettle of fish. I think it’s about getting control of migration.”

Ms Davidson's remarks were welcomed by many as a challenge to "hard" Brexit Tories, with social media users noting how it differed from the likes of Mr Fox's hardline speech.

In July Ms Davidson urged Theresa May to tell EU nationals they would be able to remain in the UK after Brexit and allay fears that they might be forced to leave. “That's an assurance that I want from the Government, and I want it pretty quick," she told a journalist at the time

"It’s not enough to say to people who have come here and made a home here, and have made their life here, that we want your labour, that's all we want."

In the same keynote speech in Birmingham, Ms Davidson announced the Scottish Conservatives were "out and proud" and "here to stay", saying the party was picking up support in Scotland.

She urged Scottish first minister Nicolas Sturgeon to rule out a second independence referendum, claiming: "The majority have no wish to return to the divisions of the past - we want to seize the opportunities of the future. Most Scots have had enough. And they are telling her - for pity's sake, first minister, let this go."

The Scottish Conservatives are currently the second largest party at Holyrood behind the SNP, having overtaken Labour for the first time in the May 2016 elections.

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