IN the crazy times we’re enduring it is sometimes difficult to come up with a useful contribution to make to the debate each week, so much is so unclear. But this week I want to try to take a kick at one of the most damaging myths which seems to be emerging: that a no-deal Brexit is somehow a realistic or desirable option. Sadly, we need to go back and examine what “no deal”, “deal” and “Brexit” actually mean, because a lot of folk seem awfy confused.
First published in The National, 25 July 2018Read more
This week’s psychodramas are just the latest distractions from a raggedy, moth-eaten plan that, staggeringly, nobody has even checked will work. But the world is moving on, and if you’re looking for some good news, the Irish Government has launched its candidature for election to the UN Security Council for the 2021-22 mandate.
First published in The National, 12 July 2018.Read more
THE EU isn’t exciting, on the face of it. It’s a thoughtful, procedure-heavy organisation with lots of checks and balances. It is about process and accountability, not drama and flamboyance. That makes it easy for anti-EU organisations and individuals to jump in and misinterpret what’s going on.
So, in the spirit of adventure, I’m going to take something that folk have been emailing me about, and use it as a primer for how the EU works. After all, everyone loves the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, right?
First published in The National, 06 July 2018Read more
SINCE the EU referendum in 2016, I almost feel like I’ve been walking around with “Scotland voted to Remain” tattooed on my forehead and in my heart, so often am I reminding my friends, colleagues and chunks of the media of this. It’s not a clever-clever argument for Scottish-European exceptionalism – it’s just a fact, and a situation that’s in danger of being railroaded through by this zombie UK Government.
One tiny, tiny glimmer of good news is that we’ve got more people talking about the EU, discussing it, analysing it, and debating whether we can stop Brexit.
First published in The National, 11 April 2018Read more
A ROSE by any other name might still smell as sweet, but what if the price increased by 14 per cent and you had to drive 10 miles to the supermarket because your local florist had been forced to close?
While floristry is a big industry, it’s composed of many small local retailers, all of whom are in serious danger. Not that I’m advocating you rush out right now and buy a bumper bouquet for your nearest and dearest (although we could all do with getting brownie points while we can), but this is just one example of the unforeseen consequences of Brexit.
First published in The National, 4 April 2018Read more
I have done a lot of reaching out to Leave voters since the EU Referendum. Remember, Remain won, in every region of Scotland, but it was not unanimous and I have written extensively in this column about how and why. In my view, most folk who voted Leave did so on specific promises, be it public procurement, more powers for Holyrood, fishing, £350m a week for the NHS, or the prospect of giving the establishment a skelp.
First published in The National, 21 March 2018.Read more
"TRADE wars are good, and easy to win.” With one tweet Donald Trump cut straight to the heart of the Brexit delusion. Far from being a free trade enthusiast keen for a deal with dear old Blighty, his instincts instead lead him to confrontation, protectionism and isolation.
First published in The National, 9 March 2018.Read more
THERE’S a reason the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier has been so laser-focused on the Good Friday Agreement. In his role as an EU Commissioner, he was responsible for the EU PEACE Programmes in Northern Ireland. As Commissioner for Regional Policy, his second Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland prioritised economic renewal, social integration, and cross-border co-operation, all supported by EU funding, including €531million in structural funds.
First published in The National, 1 March 2018.Read more
I’VE noticed lately that more people are getting in touch with me about Brexit, not just raising particular points but expressing their own unhappiness and anxiety generally over the whole thing. The UK Government, in the grip of Brexit Ultras like Jacob Rees-Mogg, has decided to pull the UK, and Scotland with it, over the cliff edge of a hard Brexit.
First published in The National, 22 February 2018Read more