This week has been challenging. As the House of Commons voted in favour of handing Theresa May a Brexit blank cheque, the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly against triggering Article 50. Never before has it been so apparent that the views of Scotland’s national legislature and those of Westminster are so at odds. In Holyrood the SNP were joined by the Greens, Liberal Democrats and the majority of Labour in opposing the UK Government’s ‘plan’.
Now more than ever we need to work together to find solutions to the democratic conundrums we all face. I am just not sure the UK Government is willing to do so.
David Martin - Labour MEP for Scotland - and I wrote a joint opinion piece calling for just this. We agree that if the rest of the UK is to leave the single market, and we do not believe it should, keeping Scotland (potentially alongside Northern Ireland and Gibraltar) within it should be an objective of the UK Government. This is a reasonable compromise that would reflect where Scotland is politically, economically and as a society. You can read the full article here:
We wrote this after co-authoring a paper on the Variable Geometry of the EU for the First Minister’s Standing Council. It contains a list of around 60 different examples of variable geometry within the EU. In themselves, few are directly analogous to anything Scotland would seek to achieve, and we explicitly do not propose any particular model as an option for Scotland’s future. Crucially though, the paper illustrates how the EU can and does provide flexible solutions. Any solution will be complex, awkward even, and will need serious political heft behind it. But solutions are possible. We need to see a greater common political will to find them. The full report can be read here:
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The Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly against the triggering of Article 50.
See also in Der Spiegel (in German)
And in Le Figaro (in French)
All of Scotland’s MPs bar the one Tory voted against the triggering of Article 50 in the House of Commons.
Corbyn’s failure to add even a single amendment was branded ‘pathetic’ by Nicola Sturgeon whilst Europe looked on at events with horror. La Repubblica (in Italian).
“Messy negotiations of the exit bill could poison Brexit divorce talks and future UK-EU trade relations” according to the Centre for European Studies.
In a constructive move the Commission is seeking to agree on a formula to determine this figure jointly with the UK Government.
Deutsche Welle has urged Theresa May to “tell the truth about Brexit.”
The Scottish Parliament European Committee called for a bespoke immigration solution for Scotland. Joan McAlpine MSP, chair of the committee, added, “A ‘hard Brexit’ runs the risk of driving this valuable group of European citizens out of Scotland. That will have a devastating effect on the communities where EU citizens have made their home, businesses and key sectors of our economy.”
The full report is available here:
And coverage in the European Press can be found here:
78 people on Europol’s wanted list in 2016 were arrested through Police Scotland’s International Assistance Unit, thanks to European Arrest Warrants (EAWs).
Campaigners who had argued that separate legislation would be required to remove the UK from the European Economic Area lost their court case.
Charlie Flanagan, Ireland's foreign minister, raised concerns over the future Irish/UK Border.
Michel Barnier European Commission's chief negotiator for Brexit met Irish MPs and emphasised that he was ‘fully aware’ of Irish concerns and determined to find solutions.
58% of senior executives who participated in an Ipsos Mori survey felt that Brexit was having a negative effect on their business.
Theresa May is threatening to draft laws turning the UK into a Singapore-style economy.
Denmark has also joined the list of countries seeking to be home for the European Medical Agency in the wake of Brexit.
Tourists from the UK travelling to Europe will no longer be exempt from roaming charges after Brexit, according the responsible European Parliament committee.
People in the UK are overly optimistic about Britain’s chances of success in the upcoming negotiations. 33% of Britons think the EU needs the UK more than they need the UK. This contrasts with 37% of Germans who feel the opposite.
The UK Government’s White Paper is disappointing and ‘Thin Gruel’ in the opinion of Tobias Lock, Senior Lecturer in European Union Law and Co-Director of the Edinburgh Europa Institute at the University of Edinburgh.
Leaving Euratom could cause significant problems for the UK’s Nuclear Power industry.
Anand Menon has some interesting thoughts on how the Treaty of Maastricht sowed some of the seeds of the division within the Tory party.