Scotland in Europe Update 16th February 2018

I, and other members of the SNP, have for many years called upon the UK Government to rethink their migration policy. It has divided families, callously rejected pleas for asylum from some of the world’s most vulnerable people and I am increasingly concerned that it will be extended to include EEA nationals. As this week’s Home Affairs Committee report stated:

“Over recent years the Government has increasingly chosen to outsource much of the enforcement function [of immigration law] to employers, educators, landlords and providers of public services under the policy known as the ‘hostile environment’… We find it unacceptable that the Government has not yet made any assessment of the effectiveness of the policy and call on them urgently to do so.”

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It is abhorrent that this system exists in the first place, but to bring another 3 million citizens under its remit is unthinkable. As Ian Dunt wrote this week, this shows there is nothing liberal about Brexit – despite the assertions of Boris Johnson – and the so-called ‘Lexiteers’ will be sorely disappointed by their choice. His column is well worth a read:

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Scots food produce at risk of Brexit labour shortages

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Monday) reacted with concern to findings published by NFU Scotland that conclusively prove the scale of the crisis facing Scots farmers due to Brexit uncertainty.
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Scotland in Europe Update 9th February 2018

This week we have finally found out what the UK Government thinks Brexit is going to cost Scotland, and their figures almost mirror those that the Scottish Government came up with. There is no good economic news in Brexit: any outcome will make you, your family and your community poorer. We stand to lose from 2.5% to 9% GDP over 15 years depending on how hard a Brexit is inflicted on Scotland. The full regional breakdown can be read here:

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This is why Scotland must stay in the Single Market and Customs Union to minimise the damage caused by leaving the EU. If a special status can be considered for Northern Ireland, as today’s announcements from the EU reveal, then it surely can for Scotland as well. You can read more about this here:

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Response to today’s Ruling from Lord Doherty

In response to today’s ruling from Lord Doherty in the Outer House of the Court of Session, a spokesperson for the seven Parliamentarians said:

“We note today’s Ruling and will consider the best way forward. The Ruling does not address whether Article 50 is unilaterally revocable, it simply says now is not the right moment to ask. We will make a decision on an appeal to the Inner House shortly.

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Scotland in Europe Update 2nd February 2018

This week kicked off with Alberto Nardelli of Buzzfeed publishing an important article containing a leaked version of the UK Government’s Brexit impact analysis.

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The figures are stark. If we crash out with no deal, growth will be reduced by 8%; if we leave with a Canada style deal, growth will be cut by 5%; if we remain in the single market, growth will be cut by 2%. Anybody paying attention will notice these are remarkably similar to the figures produced by the Scottish Government. As we have consistently said – if Brexit is to happen – the ‘least bad’ option is to keep membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.

The Tory Brexiteers are of course outraged, and (in between accusing the Civil Service of lying) have descended into another week of infighting. Whilst they work out their differences, it is worth having a brief stocktake of where we are on the only stage that matters: the actual negotiations in Brussels which will recommence next week.

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Scotland in Europe Update 26th January 2018

This week has been a little quieter than last as the politicians and civil servants in Brussels begin to get ready for the next few months. Channel 4 released a draft of the EU’s negotiating guidelines for the Brexit transition:
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There are no surprises here for anyone who has been paying attention. As I have said before, the fantasies of Leave supporters are going to have a hard collision with reality, this document proves that in black and white for all to see. The EU position has always been - and continues to be - clear, pragmatic and consistent. Brexit is a British problem, not a European one, and the priority of all the other member states is the coherence of the bloc as a whole.

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Scotland in Europe Update 19th January 2018

“The European ideal has always been inspired by a spirit of optimism and a belief in a better future. While that ideal has been tested, it has not been broken. And based on the achievements of the past, we have a renewed appetite to face the challenges of the future.”

These are the words with which the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, began his speech on the future of the EU in the European Parliament this week.

In an impressive speech he laid out his vision for the future, urging us all to “put fire back in the engine of our Social Europe”. I just wish that an independent Scotland was there alongside Ireland at the heart of the EU, and could play a part in that conversation, rather than being dragged to the door by the UK Government.

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Scotland in Europe Update: January 12th 2018

I hope you all had a good Christmas and Hogmanay and are now rested for what promises to be a busy 2018. If we are to have a deal it must be concluded within the next ten months or there will not be sufficient time for the European Council and Parliament to ratify the deal before the March 2019 exit date. There is an awful lot to be done in that time and it is going to be a big ask to get the deal done.

These negotiations mean that Brexit is going to become far more real to people as the lies and wishful thinking of the Leave campaign collide with reality. Things are going to be unpredictable and fast moving. Even this week Nigel Farage and the Leave.eu campaign headed by Aaron Banks have called for a second EU referendum! Who would have bet on that last week?

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Scotland in Europe Update 22nd December 2017

It has been a long year, and the ongoing failures of the Brexiters gives no joy to the rest of us tied to the train crash they have set in motion. This week we finally saw some of the UK’s fabled impact assessments. There were no revelations since much of what they contained was simply an assessment of the status quo. The report on fisheries noted without irony that “there is a concentration of activity in coastal towns.” Who knew?!

We need to see serious work that actually lays out the future choices we must make. As Phase 2 progresses it will become harder and harder for the Brexiters to maintain their fantasies as they collide with reality.

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Scotland in Europe Update 15th December 2017

As of this afternoon, we are onto phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations. The European Parliament and Council of the European Union have agreed with the Commission’s position. That does not mean a deal is completed on citizens’ rights, the UK’s financial obligations, and the Northern Ireland Border. A number of important issues remain outstanding but enough has been agreed for the dialogue to expand to cover other areas.

I say this through gritted teeth but for good reason. For too many people in the UK, Brexit remains white noise, a false equivalence aided by an industrial-scale spin machine telling us that somehow, we’ll have our cake and eat it; it will be alright on the night because we’re special; we’re British.

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