CLAIMS that 12 million people from Turkey would come to the UK if the country stayed in the European Union “would be laughable were it not so serious”, according to Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.
Ms Dugdale accused those advocating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU of “scare stories about immigration” to convince others to vote Leave.
It’s a simple fact of life that to grow our economy and to pay the pensions of our increasingly older population, we need to attract people from across the world to the UK.Kezia Dugdale
She said: “Michael Gove and Boris Johnson wrote to David Cameron urging him to accept the government’s failure to reduce migration because we are part of the EU.
“The economic case for leaving the EU has been comprehensively demolished, so those advocating our withdrawal from the European Union have resorted to scare stories about immigration.
“One newspaper supportive of the Leave campaign recently had a headline warning that 12 million people from Turkey would come to the UK if that country joined the EU. It would be laughable were it not so serious.
“In the world of so many of those campaigning to leave the EU, particularly the likes of Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Tories like Iain Duncan Smith, immigration is to blame for all of our problems.
“Bad jobs figures? Blame immigration. Problems in the NHS? Blame immigration.
“All too rarely do we hear politicians make a passionate defence of immigration.
“It’s considered an unwritten rule of politics that being too pro-immigration is a no-no. I disagree.
“It’s a simple fact of life that to grow our economy and to pay the pensions of our increasingly older population, we need to attract people from across the world to the UK.
“We need young people to study in our universities, we need scientists to support our research projects, we need business leaders to invest in our communities.
“Shutting ourselves off from the world isn’t just narrow-minded, it makes no economic sense.”
Lothian MSP Ms Dugdale last week acknowledged “there is a variety of views on Europe in the Labour Party” as she aligned the vast majority of her MSPs behind a Scottish Government motion in support of Scotland and the rest of the UK remaining part of the EU.
Labour MSP Elaine Smith dissented from the motion, describing the EU as “an undemocratic superstate” responsible for “intensifying austerity and reactionary politics”.
Former Scottish Labour MP Tom Harris, a one-time contender for party leader, is the director of the Scottish Vote Leave campaign.
Meanwhile, a former Labour trade minister has said European free movement rules are “allowing unscrupulous employers to import cheap foreign labour and force down UK wage rates”.
Nigel Griffiths, Scottish co-ordinator of the Labour Leave campaign and ex-Edinburgh MP, said immigration is “causing shortages and tensions” in schools and hospitals.
Mr Griffiths said: “Free movement of labour rules are allowing unscrupulous employers to import cheap foreign labour and force down UK wage rates.”