Scotland in Europe Update: 18th January 2019

This week has been a hard one. I know from my own inbox and being out and about that for a lot of people Brexit is not just a news crisis far away, it is real life, with real personal impact and folk are anxious. Watching the inevitable fall of Theresa May's deal gave me no satisfaction. The deal is terrible and needed to be defeated, but now we are going to need leadership.

The United Kingdom is not united, and it’s being led by a Tory administration that is less united still. Scotland’s position is clear: we voted to stay. Brexit is bad news for Scotland, bad news for the UK, and bad news for the EU. My job is not to 'mitigate' Brexit, it is to stop it. I’m pleased to see so many of my colleagues – in each level of government all around the UK – working across party lines to try to bring sense to this process.

The first job must be to secure more time. The UK Government should immediately request an extension to Article 50 so that we can plan for the future. While a referendum may well be the way out of this mess, and the UK Government is – at last – starting to listen to voices outside of its echo chamber, we need more time to put the case together.

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MEPs unite for action on citizens' rights

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.
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Time for unilateral action on Brexit, says Alyn

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.

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Scotland in Europe Update: 11th January 2019

Happy New Year! I hope you had a couple of weeks away from the travails of Brexit. I was lucky enough to be able to take a little time off, and spend some 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.

As you may have noticed, so far as Brexit is concerned, Christmas changed nothing. Brexit is still going disastrously. There is still no sign of either Westminster front bench adopting a realistic policy. Theresa May’s shoddy deal has no support amongst MPs or the public, and yet the Tories cling to it as tightly as Labour demand to be allowed to renegotiate it. To be clear, there is no time to renegotiate the legal text of the agreement and frankly in Brussels there is no desire to.

Brexit is Theresa May’s deal. The Brexiters’ Unicorns simply do not exist, and ‘no deal’ is unthinkable.

Whatever happens now, Brexit is going to disappoint because the promises made to Leave voters cannot be fulfilled, and Remain voters never wanted it. If we stop Brexit we can deal with that disappointment within a secure and stable legal and economic framework, or we can deal with the same disappointment while free-falling towards the rocks trying to knit a parachute.

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Alyn takes UK Gov to task on ferry bodge

Following news that the UK Government awarded a lucrative ferry contract to a company that has yet to run a ferry service, Alyn Smith MEP has written to the European Commission to request an investigation into the UK Government’s procurement process.

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Scotland in Europe Update: 21st December 2018

Finally, some good news! As you’ll know, six politicians: Andy Wightman MSP, Ross Greer MSP, Catherine Stihler MEP, David Martin MEP, Joanna Cherry MP, and I have – with Jolyon Maugham QC – been on a long legal journey to find out if the UK can stop Brexit. Yesterday, the Scottish Court of Session issued a declaration confirming this month’s earlier decision from the European Court of Justice.

“in terms of the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union dated 10 December 2018 and the petitioners and reclaimers’ second plea-in-law, find and declare that Article 50 TEU must be interpreted as meaning that, where a Member State has notified the European Council, in accordance with that article, of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, that article allows that Member State — for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between that Member State and the European Union has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period laid down in Article 50(3) TEU, possibly extended in accordance with that paragraph, has not expired — to revoke that notification unilaterally, in an unequivocal and unconditional manner, by a notice addressed to the European Council in writing, after the Member State concerned has taken the revocation decision in accordance with its constitutional requirements. The purpose of that revocation is to confirm the EU membership of the Member State concerned under terms that are unchanged as regards its status as a Member State, and that revocation brings the withdrawal procedure to an end;”

This is a total vindication of our bringing the case in the first place, a vindication of Scotland’s vote to remain, and a vindication of Scotland’s position as an independent judiciary within the United Kingdom. UK ministers have been given a comprehensive skelp from the highest court in Scotland and should now ask themselves why they went to such lengths to reduce the options that we all face.

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Scotland in Europe Update: 14th December 2018

What a week! It is almost impossible to know where to start. The good news is that there is a clear path to stopping Brexit. On Monday morning (which feels a very long time ago) the European Court of Justice ruled in "the Scottish Case" confirming categorically that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

This Judgment is definitive and cannot be appealed. It follows the Opinion of the Advocate General published last week that Article 50 allows for the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU. The case brought a cross party group of Scottish Parliamentarians (including me) has confirmed, once and for all from the highest court in the business, that the UK can indeed change its mind on Brexit. A bright light has switched on above an 'EXIT' sign. You can read the press release from the court here:
twitter.com/...

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SNP welcomes ECJ Judgment: UK can revoke Article 50

Joanna Cherry QC MP and Alyn Smith MEP have hailed the Judgment issued today (Monday) by the European Court of Justice in "the Scottish Case" confirming categorically that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

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EU to limit dangerous fats in food - what will UK do?

SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has hailed a decision today in Brussels confirming plans to limit trans fats content to below 2% in foods across the EU. Industry will have until April 2021 to adapt.

The news has been a long time coming. Alyn has been campaigning for a ban, or at least a tight limit, on trans fats since 2011.
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Scotland in Europe Update: 7th December 2018

It has been a big week and events are moving fast. The biggest news is that Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona has proposed that the Court of Justice should:

“…in its future judgment declare that Article 50 TEU allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded, provided that the revocation has been decided upon in accordance with the Member State's constitutional requirement, is formally notified to the European Council and does not involve an abusive practice."

In simple terms, if the UK wants to, we can stop Brexit and everything would return to how it was before we triggered Article 50. You can read an explanation of the opinion here: curia.europa.eu/... and the full ruling here: curia.europa.eu/...

This is a huge win for Scotland, the UK, me and my co-plaintiffs, and it is a huge step forward from the highest court in the business. Admittedly this is not the end since the Court follows a two-stage process to present its findings. Firstly, we get the opinion of the Advocate General, and secondly, the final decision of the Court. 80% of the time the Court will agree with the Advocate General so this opinion matters.

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