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
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.
First published in The National, 2 November 2018Read more
AS an MEP, I put a lot of time into getting out and about personally. I enjoy the fact I represent the length and breadth of Scotland– and have seen most of it! I think it is an integral part of my job to be available, and as visible as I can be, so that folk can see what I’m up to.
First published in The National, 26 October 2018Read more
IN one of my speeches on Brexit at SNP Conference last week, I quoted JK Galbraith from his book The Great Crash 1929: “the end had arrived but was not yet visible”.
That is where we are with Brexit, and we all need to keep the heid. The next few weeks will have many bumps in the road and I know from my own daily experience and the emails I am getting on a regular basis there are a lot of people finding this to be a new sort of torture.
First published in The National, 18 October 2018
For a lot of people, Brexit remains a far away exercise that isn’t going to affect them, or if it will, it’s not clear yet. But in case I needed a reminder that I’m working on real life issues, I can count on my inbox to let me know, as people get in touch desperately looking for reassurance that things will somehow be alright. One such message was from Sam. Sam is 61, loves his dog and, before he got sick and needed dialysis, was a regular member of his local football team. Now Sam is worrying about whether he’ll be able to get his kidney medication after Brexit, because the UK Government has yet to confirm a reliable, strong plan for managing the supply of prescription drugs and the press is full of stockpiling stories.
First published in The National, 13 September 2018Read more
WITH the return from recess of Holyrood and Westminster, all three of Scotland’s Parliaments are now back in business, and the contrast in the three could not be starker. I always stress to folk that recess does not mean holiday, but it is a chance, for me, to stay in one place for a while, recharge the batteries and try to take stock of what we want to do in the coming weeks and months.
First published in The National, 7 September 2018Read more
The next few weeks and months are going to be the Brexit endgame, and we need to keep our eyes on the prize and not be distracted by the industrial scale amounts of chaff the opposition are going to throw out.
Scotland’s best future will come with independence, and the best route to that future is to ensure that EU membership is front and centre of our proposition. Short of that, stopping Brexit for the whole of the UK is in our interests, but in this column I’ll try to pin down some of the myths that some folk seem to be keen on spreading about Scotland and the EU.
First published in The National, 30 August 2018Read more