The Brexit 'bad guys' are in London, not Brussels

I’M trying to not allow this column be a weekly wail about Brexit, but it is difficult to find many chinks of light in the fog, and, except for campaigning, I’m doing little else. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that the penny does seem to have dropped for some Brexiteers, and they have ramped up their rhetoric accordingly, trying to kid people that the EU is the enemy.

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First published in The National, 4 May 2017

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'Empathy fatigue' for EU nationals? You won't find that here

‘Empathy fatigue’ sounds like the kind of malaise that sits alongside Gauloises and Garbo, a dated phrase from another time. Not something you would associate with a vibrant, modern society, one more globally interconnected every day.

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First published in The National, 27 April 2017

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May's power play shows how weak she is within her own party

THIS column comes to you from Taipei. Taiwan is looking to win more allies in the EU, and I’m here for a three day trip, meeting the President and Ministers with a Foreign Affairs Committee delegation. Historically, Taiwan’s most important relationship is with the USA, but they’re increasingly looking towards the EU as troubles in the region move up a notch and we see dangerously unstable characters gambling recklessly as the world looks on agog.

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First published in The National, 19 April 2017


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There's no place for a dinosaur's sexist tantrums in consensual EU politics

FAR-RIGHT politician says something stupid and offensive about women.

It’s hardly a story likely to send the presses to a shuddering halt, but this one does have a happy ending.

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First published in The National, 12 April 2017

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Don’t be distracted by the sound and fury around Brexit

I’VE been doing politics a long time but I can’t recall navigating such an angry political environment. Some days it feels like the air is bubbling away with little pockets of fury. Even during the aftermath of the 2014 referendum, there was more hurt and less fury. But perhaps that’s because the 45 percent who voted for Scottish independence were still represented, via the Scottish Government, independent-leaning publications such as The National, and a sense that this energy would be focused into something more positive. 

The National

First published in The National, 5 April 2017

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Brexit is triggered but it seems like shooting yourself in the head to lose weight

“It feels like a death.”

“Is that it?”

"What a mess"

“How can they STILL not know what they want?”

Crammed into my own office with a crowd of fellow MEPs on Wednesday, watching the UK Prime Minister trigger Article 50, I realised the damage Brexit has done to any credibility the UK Government had. Appropriately for a process so reliant on a trigger, many of my colleagues see the Brexit mess as akin to blowing your brains out in order to lose weight.

Sunday Herald

First published in the Sunday Herald, 2 April 2017

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Brexit is real-life politics that will hurt millions of people – but pro-EU rallies in Scotland are only the beginning

WHEN your friend is on a drunken rampage, at what point do you step in? When they start being careless? When they’re going to hurt themselves? Or when they’re going to hurt someone else?


First published in The Scottish Sun, 29 March 2017.

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Independence is the lifeboat we need to save us from being sunk by Brexit

PROBABLY today, we will see Theresa May commence the triggering of Article 50. This unprecedented action will begin the countdown on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the culmination of years of nagging and low-level rebellion by – primarily – Tory backbenchers.

The National

First published in The National, 29 March 2017

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The time has come for Scotland to make its own moves on the world stage

“Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on” – a famous quote from the famous Winnie Ewing, the former MEP whose constant championing of Scotland’s interests on the global stage earned her the sobriquet Madame Ecosse. 

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First published in The National, 22 March 2017


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We’ve tried to negotiate on Brexit ... now it’s time to save ourselves

TO hell with this nonsense. I thought the UK could be saved from itself, but even I have to accept that it’s now a ship speeding towards the rocks and they’re not changing course. Since the EU Referendum on June 23 it has been a daily struggle to keep cheerful, but I have been kept going by a belief that, yes, we have a challenge, but I think there are solutions, so let’s find them.

The National

First published in The National, 14 March 2017

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