Tory Home Secretary’s speech to conference condemned as “scaremongering”

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By a Newsnet reporter

Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May has come under criticism for her “scaremongering” speech to the Scottish Conservative conference in Troon on Saturday.  The Home Secretary claimed in her speech that Scottish independence would open the country to uncontrolled “mass immigration” and leave Scotland at risk from terrorist threats.

Describing Scottish independence as “the threat of separation”, the Home Secretary said that it showed that Scotland “needs the Conservatives more than ever before”.

The Home Secretary again repeated the claim, denied by the Scottish Government, that an independent Scotland would be forced to join the Schengen Agreement and border controls would have to be erected along the border.  

Ms May claimed border controls would be necessary because Scotland would not retain the existing opt-outs negotiated between the UK and the EU, however EU lawyers have already suggested that the rump-UK would find itself in exactly the same position as an independent Scotland with regard to EU opt-outs.

Ms May admitted she had “no doubt” Scotland could survive as an independent nation, but claimed that an independent Scotland would be less effective in dealing with security threats than the UK, saying: “Together we are stronger. Stronger on the world stage, stronger in protecting our sovereignty in Europe.  We are stronger in our communities.”

The United Kingdom had a “shared intent” and benefited from “working together to protect our borders” and “working together protecting our country from those who would seek to do us harm”.

Ms May said that the terror attack on Glasgow Airport in 2007 was dealt with because the “full resources of the UK state” had reacted.  During the trial of the surviving bomber, Bilal Abdullah, the defence claimed that Abdullah, English born but of Iraqi descent, had carried out the bombing attack in revenge for the UK’s role in the American led invasion of Iraq.

Ms May said nothing to counter the arguments of those who claim that the terrorist threat to Scotland is magnified by UK foreign policy.  Instead she told the conference: “Working together we are fighting the scourge of international terrorism.”

Responding to the Home Secretary’s speech, a spokesperson for the SNP said:

“Given that Theresa May can’t even get the SNP’s name right, it’s hardly surprising that she is totally wrong on the issue as well. Apart from the fact that there is already free movement for all citizens across the EU, including the UK, an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK will both be successor states – and will therefore inherit exactly the same status within the EU, including not being in the Schengen area.

“An independent Scotland will also inherit the Common Travel Area which exists across the UK and Ireland, and provides for no border controls for the citizens of these islands.

“An independent Scotland will have responsibility for our own migration policy. Scotland faces different issues from the other parts of the UK, and migration policy could be tailored to address the economic challenges of demographic change. Immigration could also help address skills shortages in Scotland’s labour market.

“It is in the interests of the UK Government to stop scaremongering on these issues, because their silly claims are rebounding back on them. The lesson for UK politicians is to be careful what they say about Scotland, because the same attacks apply to them – the anti-independence parties should adopt a more positive and constructive approach.”