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Davidson: Migrants who have made a life in UK 'welcome here'

Speaking to Conservative party conference, she implored her colleagues to be 'outward looking'.

Migrants who have chosen to build a life in the UK are "welcome here", Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Davidson implored her colleagues to stay "outward looking" and "internationalist".

It comes after controversy on Tuesday over a speech by home secretary Amber Rudd, who revealed plans to force firms to disclose how many of their workers are non-British.

She said measures to curb immigration were necessary to "change the tide" of public opinion and added she wanted to "flush out" firms abusing the rules and "nudge them into better behaviour".

Rudd later told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the proposal on foreign workers was "not something we are definitely going to do" but it was "one of the tools" under consideration.

Her plans also include "tougher" immigration rules for international students "studying lower quality courses", suggesting restrictions would give higher-ranked universities an advantage in attracting overseas talent.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon united with leaders of the Greens and Plaid Cymru to issue a joint statement condemning what they said was "divisive" and "toxic" rhetoric coming from the Tories on immigration.

http://stv.tv/news/politics/1369030-sturgeon-attacks-toxic-rhetoric-from-tories-on-immigration/ | default

Davidson, the penultimate speaker on the final day of the Tory conference on Wednesday, seemed to distance herself from the home secretary's comments.

The Scottish Tory leader said: "One of the reasons I love this country so much and have fought so hard to keep it together is because I know it is a force for good in this world.

"I've seen - up close - British troops protect civilians in war. I've met the Scottish charities working to make the world landmine free.

"I've watched our businesses trade and support nations abroad. And I've seen our universities collaborate the world over to make vital breakthroughs in medical science.

"That strong, proud, virtuous internationalism that has so shaped our national character cannot be cowed by the challenges of the day."

She added: "We are a great nation precisely because we support our allies, value our neighbours and shoulder our burden in the world.

"I am proud of our past but I believe, firmly believe, that our best days still lie ahead. That internationalism abroad must find its echo at home.

"So as we have difficult - but necessary - debates on how we manage borders in future, let us not forget that behind discussions of numbers and rules and criteria, there lies people and homes and families.

"And for those who have already chosen to build a life, open a business, make a contribution, I say this is your home, and you are welcome here.

"The Conservative party I know is optimistic in spirit and internationalist in outlook - we are an outward looking people and so we must remain."

In addition to the home secretary's controversial package of measures, the Tory conference heard health secretary Jeremy Hunt announce a strategy aimed at reducing the NHS's reliance on foreign staff.

Prime Minister Theresa May also insisted this week that controls on immigration would be part of Brexit negotiations with the EU, which will begin no later than March 2017.

http://stv.tv/news/politics/1368713-britain-to-trigger-brexit-process-by-march-2017-may-announces/ | default

In their cross-party response, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens slammed Tory rhetoric on migrants as potentially inflammatory.

They said: "At the top of the Conservative party, the narrow vote in favour of leaving the EU has now been interpreted as the pretext for a drastic cutting of ties with Europe, which would have dire economic results - and as an excuse for the most toxic rhetoric on immigration we have seen from any government in living memory.

"This is a profoundly moral question which gets to the heart of what sort of country we think we live in.

"We will not tolerate the contribution of people from overseas to our NHS being called into question or a new version of the divisive rhetoric of 'British jobs for British workers'.

"Neither will we allow the people of these islands, no matter how they voted on June 23, to be presented as a reactionary, xenophobic mass whose only concern is somehow taking the UK back to a lost imperial age.

"At a time of increasing violence and tension, we will call out the actions of politicians who threaten to inflame those same things."

http://stv.tv/news/politics/1369043-theresa-may-i-will-make-britain-a-fairer-and-united-country/ | default

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said Ruth Davidson is the face of a party "that is rotten to its core".

She said: "Ruth Davidson's speech shows that she was clearly embarrassed by the comments from her colleagues but was still prepared to be the warm-up act for Theresa May.

"She is the face of a Conservative party that is rotten to its core - a xenophobic and toxic party.

"This week's conference has proved that we need a strong Labour party to fight the Tories' toxic plans and deliver real change for the people of the Scotland and the UK."

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: "Ruth Davidson should not be proud of the Conservatives, she should be ashamed of the damage she and her party are doing to our country.

"With the Brexit gamble, anti-foreigner policies, English nationalist rhetoric and right-wing agenda the Conservatives are taking our country in a narrow, closed-minded and mean-spirited direction.

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