Foreign Affairs

I am a full member of the European Parliament's prestigious Committee for Foreign Affairs, which sees me working on wide-reaching issues between EU and non-EU countries. I am also a full member of both the Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula, and the Delegation for relations with Iraq - an ideal role for the Glasgow boy who grew up in Saudi Arabia.


Alyn Smith MEP has today (Wednesday) urged the EU to act unilaterally to guarantee the rights of citizens who have been left in limbo following the UK Government’s botched handling of the Brexit negotiations.

I WAS lucky enough to be able to take some time off over the holidays. I uninstalled Twitter, only checked my email once a day and spent the time with family and friends. After a bit of a break, I would love to say that I’m feeling upbeat, but I’ll confess my main feeling when I contemplate 2019 is one of a deep foreboding. We’re going to have to support each other even more than usual because, on matters of Brexit, I think things are going to need to get worse before they get better.

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First published in The National, 7 January 2019

IT is the season of goodwill and all, but there are plenty people feeling anxious and fearful because of the UK’s disastrous approach to immigration. I want to write here about my own views on it because we in the Yes movement really need to be laser clear on it.

First a disclaimer. I take this stuff personally and cannot separate my own experience from the issue. I grew up as an immigrant, in Saudi Arabia. In 1979 when I was five my Dad was like a lot of folk in the building game – made redundant.

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First published in The National, 29 December 2018

THE Brexit clusterbùrach continues apace at Westminster and it has become nigh on impossible to make any sense of it, in particular when explaining it to my increasingly incredulous MEP colleagues from across Europe. The only difference is that, whereas we in Scotland have been dragged into this mire against our will and may suffer draconian consequences for it, the rest of Europe can regard it as nothing more than a surreal sideshow. To them, it is of secondary importance (at best) to the many serious challenges which they continue to address through pan-European co-operation.

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First published in The National, 21 December 2018

Joanna Cherry QC MP and Alyn Smith MEP have hailed the Judgment issued today (Monday) by the European Court of Justice in "the Scottish Case" confirming categorically that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith, one of the co-litigants in the "Scottish Case" brought by Scottish Parliamentarians from the Scottish, Westminster and European Parliaments on the terms of revocation of Article 50 has issued comment on the Opinion of the Advocate General issued today.

NEXT week the Brexit drama moves to Luxembourg, where I believe a fundamental part of undoing Brexit will move a step forward. As we see the mess at Westminster, MPs need to know their choice is not this blindfold Brexit v No Deal – there are other options. One of them being to stop Brexit altogether.

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First published in The National, 23 November 2018

IT seems that writing about Brexit should carry an implied “At the time of typing”, or carry a timestamp, so quickly do things appear to move.

With that in mind, here’s an explainer of how we got here and – more importantly – where events may take us.

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First published in The National, 15 November 2018

IN this column I have tried to sort the wheat from the chaff on Brexit and pass on useful news. But, in what looks like yet another “sound and fury signifying nothing” Brexit week, I’ll look at something else crossing my desk as a member of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Committee – New Caledonia’s independence referendum.

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First published in The National, 9 November 2018

YOU could be forgiven for thinking that the big news this week was the UK Budget. Certainly enough of the commentariat gleefully went back to something other than the Brexit process story, but the Chancellor’s fantastical claim the austerity is over did not get quite enough analysis. The fact is, Scotland’s resource block grant is next year going to be almost £2 billion lower in real terms than it was when the Tories first came to power. Austerity might be over for some.

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First published in The National, 2 November 2018