Human Rights

The SNP manifesto for the 2014 European Parliament election promised to protect the fundamental rights of all citizens, especially those of minority and disadvantaged groups. More information on my work in standing up for these rights is available below. 


BRITISH exceptionalism has become a buzzword in recent years, as a cause of Brexit for some academics and in the pages of the Telegraph as a justification for why Brexit will be a rip-roaring success. I confess I have some sympathy for the view that some who have spent their careers within the SW1 bubble have developed an over-entitled sense of history.

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First published in The National, 7 August 2019

The EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, today met with members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) to discuss Brexit, leading to an "invigorating" exchange of views with the SNP’s Alyn Smith.

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.

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First published in The National, 23 January 2019

As the deadline to reach a Brexit agreement approaches, and with no obvious way forward to reach a deal, Alyn Smith MEP has today authored a joint letter to EU leaders calling for swift action to protect the rights of citizens in the event of a chaotic no-deal.

Alyn Smith MEP has today (Wednesday) urged the EU to act unilaterally to guarantee the rights of citizens who have been left in limbo following the UK Government’s botched handling of the Brexit negotiations.

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.

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First published in The National, 29 December 2018

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.

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First published in The National, 3 December 2018

Scotland's government has announced that it will bring forward legislation to ensure that all EU nationals resident in Scotland maintain their Scottish voting rights in the event that Brexit takes place.

The measure, announced as part of the Programme for Government, builds on the existing policy of the SNP that all residents in Scotland should have the same democratic equality as their neighbours.  In the referendum on Scotland's independence all EU nationals resident in Scotland had a right to vote.  The Electoral Franchise Bill will also implement reforms to ensure all legal residents, from all countries, will be able to vote.

I believe it is utterly wrong for people to be placed in a situation where - after making a home, enriching a community, and contributing to society - they are now facing this awful uncertainty. The European Commission has produced the following 23-page memo on citizens' rights, which I believe may be of interest.

IN the last few months I’ve grown really weary of unthinking tribalism in Scottish politics. Like many SNP types, I started my political journey identifying most closely with the Labour Party. I never joined the party, as my time in Brussels and London that crystallised my view that Scotland could be better independent, but I still rejoiced at the 1997 election when Tony Blair’s Labour swept away the Tories. I joined the SNP the week after. It turns out 20 years is a long time in politics!

But I say all that to prove that I’m up for coalitions. 

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First published in The National, 2 August 2017