ONE of the main issues at play in the Brexit vote was immigration, and it is important to be open and honest when we are discussing it. It is an important issue, some people are concerned about it and those concerns must be addressed, not dismissed.
I applauded to the rafters the decision of the Blair government to open the doors of the UK to full freedom of movement from the first opportunity in 2004, where a number of other EU states had opted instead to have more restrictive phasing in of the rights over a number of years.
First published in The National, 23 January 2019Read more
I TWEETED over the weekend that this week is going to be tough, and I’m afraid it is. We’ll need to look after each other in the next few weeks. I know from my own inbox and being out and about that for a lot of people Brexit s not just a news crisis far away, it is real life and folk are anxious.
First published in The National, 15 January 2019Read more
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.
First published in The National, 7 January 2019Read more
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.
First published in The National, 29 December 2018Read more
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.
First published in The National, 21 December 2018Read more
THERE have been a lot of twists, turns, bumps and forks in the road in the Brexit madness – but tomorrow might be the start of the end of it.
As readers of my pieces will know, I’m a joint litigant in “The Scottish Case”, an action taken together with five other Scottish parliamentarians to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) asking for a ruling on how to revoke Article 50.
First published in The National, 3 December 2018Read more
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.
First published in The National, 23 November 2018Read more
THE UK-EU withdrawal agreement is now public, so we can now see what all the fuss has been about. Remember, this is just the exit agreement, the settling up our bills, and has nothing meaningful on what the future will hold. If the agreement is approved (an open question) then from Brexit day we will enter a transition where the EU laws roll on, so little overnight will change.
First published in The National, 18 November 2018Read more
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.
First published in The National, 15 November 2018Read more
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.
First published in The National, 9 November 2018Read more