Gregg, Kathryn and seven year old Lachlan are an Australian family who originally came to the Highlands as part of a Scottish Government initiative, backed by the Home Office, to attract people to live and work in the region.
They are now under threat of deportation.
Kate Forbes – pictured above with the Brain family [you can’t really say ‘with the Brains’] is the new SNP MSP for the home constituency of the Brain family, Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch. She has replaced the well known and hard working SNP MSP for the constituency, Dave Thompson, who decided not to stand again on 5th May 2016.
Ms Forbes has written to Home Secretary Theresa May to ask her to intervene and allow the Brain family to stay in Scotland, as has First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Kate Forves says: ‘The Brain family are exactly what we need to see the Highlands thrive.
‘They have thrown everything into their adopted community and have contributed to our economy, culture and society. It is ironic that they first came to the Highlands as part of a strategy to draw people to live and work here.
‘As one of my very first actions as a new MSP, I have written to Theresa May to ask her to rethink the Home Office’s threats to deport this family, which undermines our best efforts to reverse years of depopulation from the Highlands.
‘I also submitted a motion to the Parliament on Tuesday morning, calling for a return of post-study work visas. The situation that the Brain family are in demonstrates how necessary these visas are.’
In her letter to Theresa May [The Brain Family], Ms Forbes wrote, ‘In the constituency which I have recently been elected to serve at Holyrood we need more families like the Brains and threatening them with deportation undermines efforts to make the Highlands thrive.
‘The family are a great asset to the Highlands and their deportation would be a travesty, not only for the Brains themselves, but for those who have had the benefit of living, studying and working with them.
‘For the sake of the Highlands and the Brain family, please reconsider the decision to deport them and look closely at the provision of the necessary visa to live and work in Scotland.’
On Tuesday morning, the new MSP also submitted a motion to the Parliament asking the UK Government to reconsider its decision not to grant a visa. By Tuesday afternoon, the motion had been supported by 19 MSPs.
Kate Forbes sums up: ‘There is widespread support for the Brain family in the Highlands.
‘I would urge Theresa May to grant an extended visa and allow Gregg, Kathryn and Lachlan to continue contributing to our community.’
The full text of the parliamentary motion from Ms Forbes is:
‘That the Parliament calls on the UK Government to reconsider its decision not to grant the Dingwall family, Gregg, Kathryn and Lachlan Brain, a visa to allow them to continue living, working and studying in the Highlands; notes what it sees as the huge contribution that the family, who are originally from Australia, have made to Scotland; believes that deporting them will undermine the substantial efforts that are being made to ensure that the Highlands thrive, and asks that the Home Office reintroduces the post-study work visa so that Scotland is not deprived of people and families, such as the Brains, who it believes are integral to the country’s economy, culture and society.’
The new MSP is right to commit to the campaign for the re-introduction of the post-study work visa.
People who choose to study in the UK and who then choose to stay on to work here are immediately contributing to the economy of a place that has clearly come to mean a lot to them.
This is an important commitment in very many ways, culturally and financially.
Stopping the post-study work visas is a foolish and short sighted measure; It is disproportionately detrimental to the economic needs of more remote and underpopulated areas lie the Highlands and Islands.
A petition to support the Brain family’s plea to remain in the Highlands is online here – and is well worth support.