Scotland’s external affairs secretary has revealed it took him 19 requests to secure a meeting with the UK’s immigration minister.
Angus Robertson said he would be pressing for change to the current immigration system when he meets Kevin Foster next week.
But Robertson said it had taken almost 20 letters to the Home Office to secure his meeting with Foster.
It comes as the Scottish Government is demanding Westminster makes changes to its immigration system.
Robertson said: “After 19 requests to speak with the UK immigration minister on these vital matters – let me say that again, 19 requests to meet the UK immigration minister – finally, finally the Home Office has relented.”
The Scottish Government wants Westminster to immediately introduce a 24-month temporary workers visa.
In addition to this, Robertson has said the shortage occupation list used for immigration must be reviewed – arguing that Scottish ministers should be given a formal role in determining what categories of workers are on this.
He also wants changes made to the immigration fee structure, claiming the costs involved in this were a barrier for both workers and employers.
“The UK Government could easily introduce these improvements if there was a political will to do so,” he said.
Hitting out at the UK Government, Robertson added: “A hard Brexit has been imposed in the middle of a pandemic and, today under Westminster control, we have people queuing for hours in the search for petrol.
“There are even shortages of some foods. Our world class food and drinks industry, our universities, manufacturers and service companies have all been hit by the Tory Brexit obsession.”
But Conservative MSP Donald Cameron insisted that almost five years on from the European referendum it was “high time that the SNP accepts that the UK public made a decision to leave the European Union”.
The Tory said that the UK Government had negotiated a “fair exit deal” as he told Mr Robertson: “We now need to move on.”
Cameron added that many of the issues linked to Brexit were “short term” as he insisted: “I believe that in the long term the economy will thrive.”
He also argued there is a “shortage of lorry drivers right across Europe” with the UK not the only country affected by this.
The Tories had “always acknowledged there was going to be short-term issues after the UK’s exit from the EU,” he said.
“We’ve always accepted Brexit will present challenges as well as opportunities. But it is simply wrong to ignore the fact that we are in a global pandemic which is having a definitive impact on our economy, along with all the other causes of disruption in the supply chain.”
The Conservative continued: “The vast majority of foreign HGV drivers left the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the pandemic has created a driver test backlog, which has prevented new drivers from getting on the road.”