By Adam Gordon
Local councillors have spoken out in support of EU citizens living in Scotland following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.
The Brexit result led to an emergency debate at Wednesday’s full meeting of the Highland Council, in which the implications for the Highlands, where 56 per cent of the population voted to remain in the UK were discussed.
Independent councillor for Skye, John Gordon highlighted the valuable contribution made by EU citizens living in Skye and Raasay, citing the positive impact they had made to their local area and to the Highland region: “Although these are uncertain times, I would add my voice to those of the First Minister and the leader of the Highland Council in reassuring EU citizens living in Highlands that they are welcome, valued and that their contributions are important to the life of Highlands and that will not change.
He went on to say: “I have friends locally from Poland, Germany and Romania, they have enriched this area and the interchange of ideas and cultures helps make for a truly diverse, vibrant and international region which we should celebrate.
“The Highlands has many virtues and those living here enjoy a high quality of life, however, now more than ever before it is important that EU citizens know they have support from their local communities.
“To all EU citizens, I want to assure you this is your home, and Skye and Raasay have prospered and benefited by the arrival of EU citizens, who have, and will continue to play a significant and positive role in the life of this area.”
His fellow independent councillor for Skye, Drew Millar said after the meeting that the council would help lead their communities to mitigate the effect of the result: “I was delighted with the council debate as members were made aware of the expected implications for Highland of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and the members who contributed made it very clear that the Highlands are a welcoming place to all citizens and a great place to work and to learn.
“The council will carefully monitor developments as the withdrawal from Europe begins and will demonstrate leadership for our communities as we plan and prepare for our future.”
He added: “The Highlands have had huge amounts of investment through the various EU funding programmes over the years which have meant so much to our communities. The result of the referendum will have a detrimental effect on the country and the Highlands and we must work together to offset the consequences.”
Although the majority of people in the Highlands and Scotland voted to remain part of the EU, over 17 million people across the UK (51.9 per cent) voted in favour of leaving in the referendum.