NICOLA Sturgeon was questioned by Rona Mackay MSP on the education of children of illegal immigrants at First Minister’s Questions.
Earlier that day, on Thursday, December 1, UK Cabinet documents were leaked, concerning the Home Office. In 2015, the department, then run by Theresa May, floated a policy that would push children of illegal immigrants to the bottom of the list for school places.
The policy suggested that schools could withdraw place offers to children, if their family were found to be illegally living in the UK. The Home Office also attempted to involve the Department of Education into immigration control plans.
Reacting to the leak, the Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP asked: “Is that a chilling insight into where an increasingly right-wing Tory government wants to drag the UK?”
The First Minister replied: “Unfortunately, I think that it is. I take a very simple view of this. I know there are debates around immigration. And some of those debates are legitimate issues that we’ve got to engage with.
“But a simple view I think that all of us should take on this is: children are children.
“And when children are in this country, we should support them and we should ensure that they get access to education. And I hope that is something everybody would agree with, on the basic grounds of morality and human rights.”
In the same debate, Nicola Sturgeon pointed out that it has become increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the Conservatives and UKIP.
After the question time, Rona said: “I am very glad that the First Minister agrees with me on this issue.
“Denying children school places is not just an immigration control measure that has gone a step too far, but also a direct breach of equality.
“Children living in the UK, regardless of their family background, should have access to education.
“And for the Home Office to have even considered dragging schools and the Department of Education into their own game of curtailing immigration is disgraceful.
“This is not the first time our Prime Minister has gone out of her way to appease the xenophobic sentiment of the right-wing. And I believe I speak for many people in Scotland when I say this – we are very concerned that this post-Brexit rhetoric might be more than just a gesture, but what Theresa May and her Tory government actually think.”