Amid Brexit, get set for our most important European elections yet

CONGRATULATIONS, everyone, on surviving another week of noise, drama and Boris Johnson chasing a leadership challenge, culminating in Parliament’s rejection of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement.

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First published in The National, 31 March 2019

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We need to build a coalition if we are going to win Scottish independence

TO beat Brexit we’re going to need a coalition, and that will mean working with some people we wouldn’t usually work with. I’ll let you into a secret too: if we’re to build a coalition to take Scotland to independence we’re going to need to do the same.

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First published in The National, 28 March 2019

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This is why EU leaders are losing patience with UK

THE reaction said it all. “We were saying all the time that we need to have more clarity from London. Clearly, there is no clarity. There is less clarity today than ... yesterday.”

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First published in The National, 21 March 2019

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Here are five ideas to get us out of this Brexit chaos

THERE was an old Sunday newspaper column by a fictional MSP that always began with “What a week!” I feel like that and as I write it is only Wednesday.

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First published in The National, 14 March 2019

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Article 50 extension isn't going to solve anything

What is remarkable about where we stand is not what has changed but how much has remained the same.

Ever since Mrs May triggered Article 50 with no long term plan (supported, remember, by the Labour and Conservative Parties) it has been obvious to anybody who understood the process that we would by this point have three choices: to accept a deal from the UK Government, crash out with no-deal, or simply revoke it.

The underlying choice is rigid and will not shift until one option has been picked.

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First published in The Sunday Herald, 14 March 2019

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The historic Holyrood Brexit debate was a good day for Scottish democracy

WITH little of note happening on the Brexit front in Brussels this week, I am in Scotland catching up with people and seeing what is happening. I was privileged to be in the gallery at Holyrood on Tuesday to watch the EU debate. It was a set-piece occasion and pretty much everybody rose to it. It was historic because it was the first-ever joint motion presented in the name of almost all the parties in our national Parliament and also the National Assembly for Wales, the Senedd. Scotland’s SNP government and the Welsh Labour government have been working hand in glove on Brexit since the stramash was visited upon us, and it is testament to our outstanding Scotland in Europe Minister Michael Russell that we have such a strong joint position.

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First published in The National, 7 March 2019

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I'm ready to fight for Scotland in European elections

THERE’S not a lot certain in Brexit, and buckle up folks – this week is going to be less certain than most.

I am for other reasons looking back through my files to write about “how on earth did we get here?” and am struck by how little has actually changed in the past few years for those of us who have been dug in from the start.

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First published in The National, 27 February 2019

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A new kind of politics? The Independent Group has no politics

EVENTS this week at Westminster are being hailed as a game changer. Maybe the last few years of enforced Brexit diet has made me cynical but sorry, I can’t see it. Worse, I’m concerned it is just yet another distraction while the petty officers of the Titanic manoeuvre themselves a bit closer towards the lifeboats rather than try to steer the ship off the iceberg.

Things I warned of two full years ago are now coming to pass, yet for every piece of economic bad news there is a squadron of useful idiots deployed to take to the airwaves to blame global events, the weather, the dog eating their homework ... anything. Anything but to accept the simple reality that Brexit has already made the UK, and for the moment Scotland with it, a less attractive place to invest.

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First published in The National, 22 February 2019

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Forget Brexit, the EU needs to think about Venezuela

WHILE in the UK the black hole otherwise known as Brexit has sucked in nearly all media and political attention, that is not the case elsewhere in Europe. Indeed in Brussels it has long been regarded as an unwelcome distraction from bigger problems the EU is facing, both internally and across the world. In recent days, the European Parliament has addressed one such challenge, namely the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

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First published in The National, 10 February 2019

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Brexit and the case for Scottish independence

I have devoted, perforce, the last couple of years to trying to stop Brexit. Scotland’s view is clear, we voted to remain within the European family and that has been my instruction. But as we approach the exit day more and more attention is going to the other potential answer to the Brexit shambles if, despite all our efforts, we cannot turn it around for the whole of the UK.

More and more people are asking me "when will there be another independence referendum?". Invariably I reply that there is no question of "if", it is only a question of "when" but that depends on a great many variables.

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First published in the Sunday Herald, 10 February 2019

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