It is “particularly disturbing” a vote on a Bill from the UK Government repealing freedom of movement for EU citizens is taking place during the coronavirus pandemic, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said.
North Down MP Dr Farry was speaking ahead of voting against the Immigration Bill in the House of Commons this evening, saying it reaffirmed his commitment to seek special mitigations for Northern Ireland in any Brexit scenario.
The Bill repeals EU freedom of movement and introduces a new points-based system linked to income and salary for those who wish to come and live in the UK.
“Immigration enriches our society, driving our economy and making our community more diverse,” said Dr Farry.
“It is disappointing this Bill is being voted on at all but particularly disturbing it is taking place during the coronavirus pandemic, where many on the front line in our emergency services and elsewhere, and who have fallen victim to this disease are migrants or from migrant backgrounds.
“This is bad legislation MPs should oppose as a matter of principle. EU freedom of movement has been to the advantage of all citizens across the continent, including those from the UK. These new measures are a particular threat for Northern Ireland, where migrant workers are vital to the economy, playing a pivotal role in key sectors such as retail, hospitality and tourism, agri-food and social care. We will seek amendments taking into account our local circumstances.
“Alliance believes in a united community, meaning recognising the economic and cultural benefits migration brings, as well as the integral role immigrants play in our society. We have a duty to protect that, while tackling the myths and prejudices built up around it.”