Scotland in Europe Update 16th March 2018

This week the European Parliament agreed its position on the future EU-UK relationship by 554 votes to 110 with 51 abstentions. With a heavy heart I supported the motion as it is a rational response to the self-imposed red lines of the UK Government. The future we face is pretty bleak and is not one Scotland wants.

The resolution sets out Parliament’s input ahead of 22-23 March summit of EU Council when it is expected that guidelines for negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be approved. Any deal with the UK will require the approval of the European Parliament. It has been proposed that this relationship could be based on four pillars:

  • trade and economic relations (FTA),
  • internal security,
  • cooperation in foreign policy and defence and
  • thematic cooperation, for example on cross-border research and innovation projects.

The resolution stresses the importance of the integrity of the Single Market with its binding common rules, common institutions and common supervisory, enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms. This means that even closely-aligned non-EU countries with identical legislation cannot enjoy the same rights, benefits or market access to those of EU member states. If you want to read the position in full, just click here:

You can also see my speech in the debate here:

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European Parliament passes EU-UK future trade guidelines

Today the European Parliament approved a position on the future EU-UK relationship by 554 votes to 110 with 51 abstentions.

The resolution sets out Parliament’s input ahead of 22-23 March summit of EU Council when it is expected that guidelines for negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be approved. Any deal with the UK will require the approval of the European Parliament.

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Scotland in Europe Update 9th March 2018

The EU has spelled out what the UK has failed to. The ridiculous red lines set out by Theresa May last week, designed to appease the Brexit ultras of the Tory party, mean that we can – at best – expect a Canada style Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU after Brexit. The full Council guidelines laying this out can be read here.

As Kirsty Hughes of the SCER notes in her excellent assessment: “Estimates of what impact a Canada-style free trade deal could have on UK-EU trade, suggest a 35% drop in goods trade and a massive 61% drop in services trade – adding up to a 45% drop in trade overall.”

This will be hugely damaging for both Scotland and the UK. The UK Government’s own figures show this and, now that their analysis has been released by the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee, we can all see that all Brexit scenarios are damaging. The current plan is the second worst of all the options.

Despite this, some Brexiters still keep threating a ‘no deal’ which is even worse!

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Scotland in Europe Update: 2nd March 2018

It has been busier than normal this week and that is before anybody mentions the weather. I hope that everyone is staying safe and warm back in Scotland as I sit in Brussels waiting for a flight back home.

The most important development here in Brussels was the Commission’s release of the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This covers citizens' rights, other separation issues such as goods placed on the market before the withdrawal date, the financial settlement, transitional arrangements and a protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The UK could have produced such a text but has not. Meanwhile, the EU, knowing that time is of the essence, has produced one. It is not a final text, but it is a good start going further on citizens’ rights than the UK has and crucially it provides a solution to the issues surrounding the Irish border. Namely, it would keep Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union and large amounts of the Single Market.

To be clear, this solution is only used if the UK doesn’t produce a solution of its own that works. That is what was promised in December and what the UK Government has failed to deliver thus far. Any outcome that creates a border is unthinkable and would jeopardise twenty years of peace. The full text of the draft, should you want a read, is available here:

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Scotland in Europe Update: 23rd February 2018

The ever-expanding list of things that the Brexit Ultras blame for the imminent failure of Brexit (the EU, Ireland, judges, Remainers, academics, experts, civil servants, etc.) gained its most dangerous and indeed sinister new entry this week. Several Ultras have launched what looks suspiciously like a co-ordinated attack on the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) itself.

The reason is as transparent as it is grubby and short sighted. They have worked out, as I have said before, that the GFA scuppers their plans for a harder-than hard Brexit, because it requires an invisible border across the island of Ireland.

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Scotland in Europe Update 16th February 2018

I, and other members of the SNP, have for many years called upon the UK Government to rethink their migration policy. It has divided families, callously rejected pleas for asylum from some of the world’s most vulnerable people and I am increasingly concerned that it will be extended to include EEA nationals. As this week’s Home Affairs Committee report stated:

“Over recent years the Government has increasingly chosen to outsource much of the enforcement function [of immigration law] to employers, educators, landlords and providers of public services under the policy known as the ‘hostile environment’… We find it unacceptable that the Government has not yet made any assessment of the effectiveness of the policy and call on them urgently to do so.”

It is abhorrent that this system exists in the first place, but to bring another 3 million citizens under its remit is unthinkable. As Ian Dunt wrote this week, this shows there is nothing liberal about Brexit – despite the assertions of Boris Johnson – and the so-called ‘Lexiteers’ will be sorely disappointed by their choice. His column is well worth a read:

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Scots food produce at risk of Brexit labour shortages

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Monday) reacted with concern to findings published by NFU Scotland that conclusively prove the scale of the crisis facing Scots farmers due to Brexit uncertainty.
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Scotland in Europe Update 9th February 2018

This week we have finally found out what the UK Government thinks Brexit is going to cost Scotland, and their figures almost mirror those that the Scottish Government came up with. There is no good economic news in Brexit: any outcome will make you, your family and your community poorer. We stand to lose from 2.5% to 9% GDP over 15 years depending on how hard a Brexit is inflicted on Scotland. The full regional breakdown can be read here:

This is why Scotland must stay in the Single Market and Customs Union to minimise the damage caused by leaving the EU. If a special status can be considered for Northern Ireland, as today’s announcements from the EU reveal, then it surely can for Scotland as well. You can read more about this here:


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Response to today’s Ruling from Lord Doherty

In response to today’s ruling from Lord Doherty in the Outer House of the Court of Session, a spokesperson for the seven Parliamentarians said:

“We note today’s Ruling and will consider the best way forward. The Ruling does not address whether Article 50 is unilaterally revocable, it simply says now is not the right moment to ask. We will make a decision on an appeal to the Inner House shortly.

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Scotland in Europe Update 2nd February 2018

This week kicked off with Alberto Nardelli of Buzzfeed publishing an important article containing a leaked version of the UK Government’s Brexit impact analysis.

The figures are stark. If we crash out with no deal, growth will be reduced by 8%; if we leave with a Canada style deal, growth will be cut by 5%; if we remain in the single market, growth will be cut by 2%. Anybody paying attention will notice these are remarkably similar to the figures produced by the Scottish Government. As we have consistently said – if Brexit is to happen – the ‘least bad’ option is to keep membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.

The Tory Brexiteers are of course outraged, and (in between accusing the Civil Service of lying) have descended into another week of infighting. Whilst they work out their differences, it is worth having a brief stocktake of where we are on the only stage that matters: the actual negotiations in Brussels which will recommence next week.

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