EU-style burgundy passports will be available for Scots if the country declared independence from the UK under new plans from the SNP’s First Minister.
Unveiling a series of plans for citizenship in an independent Scotland, Humza Yousaf announced that they would revert to the EU’s “recommended layout, size and colour”.
Mr Yousaf claimed the switch to “burgundy red” could help a separate Scotland gain speedier EU membership – although experts suggest it could be years before an independent Scotland could join the bloc.
The prospectus is the fifth in the Building a New Scotland series, which was launched by former first minister Nicola Sturgeon last year, with opposition parties accusing the SNP of wasting taxpayer money on the plans.
Scots would be able to retain British citizenship after leaving if they wished, the plans stated – although Mr Yousaf said he would renounce his own.
People with a parent born in Scotland or born there themselves could also claim citizenship, as well as those who have previously lived there for at least 10 years.
The announcement also detailed how an independent Scotland would handle migrants’ rights, with the First Minister arguing a a more “inclusive” Irish-style citizenship system would be beneficial morally and economically.
Foreign nationals could claim the benefit after living for five years in Scotland.
Meanwhile, British people resident in Scotland “at the point of independence” would be automatically entitled to citizenship.
The paper, titled “Citizenship in an independent Scotland”, also said that anyone withScottish citizenship would be free to move to England, Wales or Northern Ireland to live or work, regardless of the UK’s points-based immigration system.
The paper proposes that Scotland would remain part of the Common Travel Area after independence.
This would allow British and Irish citizens to live and work in Scotland without restrictions, while Scottish citizens would retain those same rights in the UK and in Ireland.
When questioned if this “watered-down” Scottish citizenship could lead to migration to the rest of the UK during a press conference, Mr Yousaf responded: “If Scotland has a really open, inclusive model of citizenship that allows people to come here to work, to be part of society, to contribute, why on earth would they want to move away from Scotland?”
Opposition politicians laid into the announcement, with Scottish Labour constitution spokesperson Neil Bibby accusing the Scottish government of being “distracted by its constitutional obsession”.
While Donald Cameron, the Scottish Tories’ shadow constitution secretary, said: “People across Scotland will be appalled that Humza Yousaf is focusing on yet another self-indulgent paper touting independence. It is the wrong priority at the worst possible time.
“This paper is not only a blatant misuse of public money and resources by the SNP, but it also demonstrates how out of touch they are with the public.”
Mr Yousaf insisted the Scottish government had spent a “fraction” of the £3 billion he said it spends every year on “mitigating the effects of Westminster austerity and the cost of living crisis”.
The announcement was made as Cabinet Office minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe told the Lords this week that “sanctions” for Scottish ministers would be considered as part of a review of the Cabinet Manual, which codifies the conduct and operation of government and civil servants.
Robert Hazell, a professor of government and the constitution at University College London who was involved in compiling the Cabinet Manual, told BBC Scotland it was “perfectly proper” for civil servants to work on the Scottish government’s agenda.