Nicola Sturgeon demanded action against “xenophobia” in politics as she said Scotland rejected Theresa May’s “despicable” hostile environment.
Addressing the STUC conference in Dundee, the first minister said the treatment of EU citizens in the UK had become one of the most “shameful” aspects of Brexit.
Ms Sturgeon also warned that the damage of any form of Brexit could not be fully mitigated. But when it came to Scottish independence she said there would be “nothing disorderly” about Scotland leaving the UK following an independence vote.
“Scotland wants no part of Theresa May’s despicable hostile environment,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“We reject utterly the dog whistle xenophobia that is too prevalent in political discourse and we stand firm and united against the rise of the far right.
“One of the most shameful – and I use that word deliberately – aspects of Brexit has been the treatment of EU citizens living here in our country.
“No-one, least of all me, pretends that Scotland is somehow immune from racism. We are not, but the message that we as leaders must send is this one; Scotland is an open country and we are a welcoming country. We want people to come to Scotland and we want people to stay in Scotland.
“Diversity is not a weakness. Diversity is a strength to be celebrated and we are determined to do that.”
The first minister warned any form of Brexit would harm living standards and risk jobs. And she called on the UK Government to use the extension to October 31 to drop its “damaging red lines” and talk with all parties and devolved governments on the future relationship with Europe.
She also renewed her calls for a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.
Ms Sturgeon said: “My hope – although this is in no way guaranteed – is that in a second referendum, the UK as a whole would opt to remain.
She claimed the damaging consequences of Brexit could be mitigated but not prevented completely.
Asked about her plans to break up the UK after her speech, she said: “There will be nothing disorderly about Scottish independence when it happens.”
Ms Sturgeon also announced the expansion of a pilot scheme for migrants that will enable them to transfer skills gained overseas into UK-recognised qualifications.
The Glasgow Caledonian University scheme has helped 40 migrants and refugees, with another 40 people expected to take part in 2019/20.