Edinburgh council leader on EU nationals: ‘They are us, we are them’

Edinburgh's council leader has underlined the vital role of EU nationals in the city's future.
Edinburgh's council leader has underlined the vital role of EU nationals in the city's future.
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COUNCIL leader Adam McVey has underlined the vital role of EU nationals in Edinburgh’s future, as the Scottish Government issued an appeal for them to stay despite Brexit.

Amid continuing uncertainty over the UK’s departure from the European Union following the 2016 referendum, Cllr McVey tweeted: “40,000 Edinburgh citizens are EU nationals. They are us. We are them. They are welcome & valued members of our community on equal terms to every Edinburgher. I hope they’re as proud as I am to call our city home.”

Councillor Adam McVey, Leader of City of Edinburgh Council

Councillor Adam McVey, Leader of City of Edinburgh Council

Approaching 10 per cent of the Capital’s population are EU nationals and key parts of the 
city’s economy depend on them.

Cllr McVey said: “We are all Edinburgh citizens, regardless of where we came from.

“Our culture, economy and communities have been enriched by those who have chosen to make their life here in the Capital. Our public services, economy and many of our institutions rely on people coming to our city, bringing their innovation, skills and culture.

“Throughout Brexit we all have a responsibility to stand with our friends, colleagues and neighbours whose rights are affected by Brexit and make it clear that while the UK’s membership of the EU looks likely to end, all our citizens will continue to be just that, Edinburgh citizens, valued, respected and warmly welcome.”

Cllr McVey’s comments came as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon published an open letter to EU citizens in Scotland with a similar message and unveiled a “Stay in Scotland” package which includes £250,000 for community-based support across the country; support and advice for EU citizens with more complex needs or particular challenges; and a toolkit for employers, including posters, factsheets and information on further guidance.

In her letter, Ms Sturgeon said: “The closer we move towards the UK’s exit from the European Union the more real and substantial reassurances about your rights and position in this country you need.

“As the First Minister of Scotland I want to thank you for the contribution you make to Scotland. I am proud to say that this is your home, you are welcome here and we want you to stay.”

The government package was launched amid concerns that many EU nationals are unaware of the need to apply for settled status. Ms Sturgeon’s letter said: “You play a crucial role in Scotland’s economy and public services. You are a vital part of Scotland not just for the skills and talent you bring to our country but also the diversity and richness you bring to our culture and communities.

“Many of you have been living in Scotland for several years and have built your lives and raised your families here. The hardest part of dealing with Brexit has been meeting EU citizens across Scotland, who want to stay here but who do not know what steps they need to take and whether their rights will be secured.

“While the Scottish Government unfortunately does not have the power to simply grant the right to remain for those that seek it, we do want all those who have made their lives here to be able to stay.”