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Editorial: We'd be worse off without foreigners

| Written by Shetland News

THE TEAM at Shetland News would like to encourage our readers to consider adding their name to an open letter condemning the UK Government for its “bitter, racist and divisive language” in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

At the Conservative party conference Prime Minister Theresa May derided people with an inclusive liberal mind-set by saying that “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”. What nonsense.

Irrespective of how people voted in the EU referendum, the government has not obtained a mandate to start discriminating based on where people were born.

Shetland News’ workforce includes a German national who has lived and worked in these islands for quarter of a century, and another staff member who is half French. This is something we have in common with countless other local businesses and organisations.

We applaud the stand taken by Scalloway Hotel owner Caroline McKenzie against the government’s xenophobic plan to require companies to publish details of foreign workers. Thankfully that plan now appears to have been discarded.

As the open letter states, there are no separate castes in our society and people who were not born here are “our friends, partners, colleagues and neighbours”.

These islands traditionally enjoy very low unemployment. Were we to lose workers from overseas it could worsen NHS Shetland’s GP shortage. It could deprive fish factories, cafes, restaurants and many other businesses of staff, and it would leave Shetland society infinitely poorer.

In light of that, we have no qualms in condemning the sort of rancid language coming from a government that has left many non-UK citizens feeling, for the first time, that they are no longer welcome in this country.

It is highly alarming that the language of the far right now seems to be acceptable mainstream political rhetoric in the UK.

The “Not Foreign” letter has already been signed by over 10,000 people, and it would be great if even a few hundred islanders added their names to send a strong message that Theresa May’s government does not act in our name.

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