Dispel the myth a no-deal Brexit is a realistic option

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.

The National header

First published in The National, 25 July 2018

Read more

Ireland’s Security Council bid shows us what independence could be

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.

National header

First published in The National, 12 July 2018.

Read more

Article 13 proves the EU isn’t out-of-touch like Westminster

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?

National header

First published in The National, 06 July 2018

Read more

The battle to stop Brexit gathers speed

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.

National header

First published in The National, 11 April 2018

Read more

Business won't be blooming for florists after Brexit

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.

National header

First published in The National, 4 April 2018

Read more

Why the SNP want to leave one Union but not another

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.

National header

First published in The National, 21 March 2018.

Read more

It’s not too late for Scotland to take back control from hard Brexiteers

Sometimes a strong government needs to make unpopular decisions that will benefit people down the line. The current UK Government, steered by hard-Brexit extremists and reliant on the DUP for its support, is not a strong government.

National header

First published in The National, 15 March 2018

Read more

Trump's actions prove nobody wins when major nations make snap trade decisions

"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.

National header

First published in The National, 9 March 2018.

Read more

The EU know the value of maintaining the Good Friday Agreement

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.

National header

First published in The National, 1 March 2018.

Read more

Now is the time we win hearts and minds of betrayed No voters

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.

National header

First published in The National, 22 February 2018

Read more