This week my thoughts are firmly with those affected by the horrific events in Germany. At times like these we must all work together to build bridges between nations and communities, not sow seeds of division through our words or actions.
Away from these events the big news has been the launch of the Scottish government’s plan to deal with Brexit. This is the first thought-out solution to the results of the EU referendum.
The proposals seek to find an accommodation that enables Scotland’s voice to be heard, as well as mitigating the risks that Brexit poses to our interests. This is not about independence; the paper is about compromise, as it outlines a way of expressing Scotland’s vote to remain within the EU whilst remaining a part of the UK.
In essence, it comes down to membership of the Single Market. Ideally the UK as a whole should stay but if not then Scotland at least should be permitted to remain. There are clearly challenges to make this work and a host of new powers will need to be devolved, but it can be done.
Now we must wait to see if the UK Government wants it to be done. If you wish to know more, the following link is a handy guide to the main issues:
This will be your last update of 2016 as I am closing the office until after Hogmanay to give the team (and me!) some time off. Safe to say, 2016 has been quite a year, and I'm not sure 2017 is going to be any easier. As is my usual practice, I have not sent Christmas cards but made a donation to Glasgow City Mission (http://www.glasgowcitymission.com/christmas), a coalition of great charities working together for some of our most vulnerable. I wish you a merry Christmas, a restful break, and hope that your 2017 is better than your 2016!
The number of UK applications for Swedish citizenship double after referendum result.
Liam Fox is considering a Turkey-style deal which means we would be out of the single market.
Lego intends to raise its prices in January due to the fall in the value of the pound.
David Martin, a Labour MEP for Scotland, has argued that any Brexit policy should focus on damage limitation.
The TUC and the British Chambers of Commerce have written a joint letter urging the UK Government to confirm that EU migrants can remain after Brexit.
Although MEPs will have a vote on the final Brexit deal, if Theresa May gets her way, the UK Parliament will not.
The big news for us in Scotland is the publication of ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ by the Scottish Government. This was covered across Europe. Our European neighbours were watching, and below are a couple of examples of the press coverage:
Le Parisien (in French).
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German).
Anton Muscatelli, who leads the First Minister’s standing council has written his thoughts on the paper. “A hard Brexit would severely damage the British and Scottish economies. In the circumstances, the Scottish government has set out a strategy for how it might seek to retain the benefits of the single market for Scotland.”
There has been an overwhelmingly positive response from across civic society.
“The STUC welcomes the publication of this paper by the Scottish Government which is a useful and serious contribution to the debate. It is positive that the Scottish Government has developed such a clear position setting out what they see as the best future relationship both Scotland and the UK could have with the EU. This is in stark contrast to the half-baked and conflicting positions that are emerging from the UK Government on this issue.”
Royal College of Nursing
“The RCN has previously raised concerns about the uncertainties caused by the vote to leave the EU. Areas such as free movement, employment legislation and public health could potentially impact on health and social care. So it’s important that the ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ document addressed these key areas.
British Medical Association Scotland
“It is welcome that the Scottish Government’s paper today seeks to protect the right of EU nationals to continue to work in Scotland, but it remains a real source of concern that the Westminster Government still refuses to clarify its intentions towards EU nationals who are already working in our health service.”
“Today’s paper correctly makes clear that the environment, and its protection, has benefited from European cooperation to date. RSPB Scotland strongly urges that the environment continues to be central to the negotiations, so as to maintain these benefits to the greatest possible extent.
Friends of the Earth Scotland
“We welcome these proposals from the Scottish Government, which clearly put protecting our environment and co-operation on reducing climate change emissions at the heart of Scotland’s position on Europe.
Faculty of Advocates
“The Faculty notes with interest today’s detailed paper from the Scottish Government outlining its proposals for Scotland’s place in Europe. … As the First Minister says, much will depend on all parties finding the political will to create practical solutions for Scotland.”
Law Society of Scotland
“With all the uncertainty that followed the referendum result, the Scottish Government is to be commended for producing a thorough set of options which deserves proper consideration and analysis. Whatever the advantages or disadvantages of the various options, the paper provides an important contribution to the debate on Scotland’s future relationship with our European neighbours.”
“We welcome publication of this document as a clear record of the Scottish Government’s priorities and intentions in regards to the European Union."
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
"We welcome efforts by the Scottish Government to keep Scotland as part of an outward looking & integrated Europe:
National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s paper, which reiterates the importance of protecting the huge benefits that EU membership brings to our students, universities, and colleges – all of which have long prided themselves on being outward looking, collaborative institutions.”