Scotland in Europe Update 3rd August 2018

“We’ll just revert to WTO terms!” shriek the Brexiteers when challenged that the EU stuff is a bit complex. I’ll let you into a secret: anyone saying that clearly doesn’t understand what they’re talking about and should be quarantined as a dangerous fool.

Scotland’s best interests are emphatically to stay in the EU, but let’s look at the reality of WTO membership. If you didn’t like Brussels, wait till you meet Geneva!

The first thing to understand is that the WTO is not dedicated to free trade or fair trade (note the lack of an “F” in the acronym), neither is it democratic nor accountable to you as a citizen.

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Scotland in Europe Update 27th July 2018

So this has been the week of ‘no deal’. The head of Amazon warned it could cause civic unrest. (; the NHS would need to stockpile drugs ( and the Brexit Secretary himself Dominic Raab has promised to make sure we don’t starve (

I must admit, all this hyperbole is rather too much, and I agree with Tánaiste Simon Coveney that there is far too much talk of a no deal:

To be clear, one of the most damaging myths which seems to be emerging is that a no-deal Brexit is somehow a realistic or desirable option. It would be a catastrophe. The laws which ensure food, people, and everything else can move in and out of the external UK borders would cease to apply. It is fall of Yugoslavia and USSR stuff. It is unconscionable.

I don’t deny there are some who are pushing for it, but I do not see it as a remotely likely scenario. The fact that it's the sorts of the people I dislike most talking about it makes me all the more suspicious.

You can read more of my thoughts on this in the my National column for the week:

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Scotland in Europe Update 20th July 2018

So what we all suspected is true. The Leave campaign cheated.

The sheer pace of the news cycle at the moment means it has been too easy for the Brexiters to move on but they must not be allowed to. The single most important decision the UK has made in 40 years was built upon a set of lies delivered by a set of cheats. Peter Geoghegan has covered this story from the beginning and it is well worth reading his thoughts:

And of course, you can read the full findings of the Electoral Commission here:

Meanwhile, the utter inability of the UK Government to negotiate in an effective manner means that the rest of the EU is getting increasingly concerned about no deal. To be clear, I still do not think that this is the most likely outcome, but the dangers of it keep increasing. The longer the UK Government continues to prioritise internal Tory squabbles, the more we risk reaching next March with no deal and all the potential chaos which that could cause.

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Scotland in Europe Update 13th July 2018

Just two years after the EU referendum vote, 16 months after Theresa May triggered Article 50, the UK Government has published its White Paper on the future EU-UK relationship.

But – true to form – even this couldn’t go off without a hitch. The idea that MPs should probably have a chance to look at the white paper before scrutinising it in the Commons didn’t appear to occur to new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab or his colleagues. Speaker John Bercow had to suspend Parliament yesterday for a full five minutes to allow MPs to skim-read the 98 pages ahead of Raab’s speech. “It is a source of considerable unhappiness in this Chamber... that the Rt Hon gentleman is delivering a statement about a white paper, copies of which are not currently available to the House of Commons."

It’s charitable to assume this was just the latest round of familiar Conservative Brexit incompetence, but it’s worth noting that journalists had copies of the paper during the morning’s press conference - so well before MPs! There is no good Brexit.

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Scotland in Europe Update 6th July 2018

It has been another busy week in the European Parliament, including an important vote on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, a topic about which many of you have been in touch. I voted to reject the mandate, on the grounds that the package agreed by the Committee responsible needed more work to strike a proper balance. The dossier will now remain live before the full Parliament over the Summer, allowing time for a proper full debate and vote of the Parliament in September. You can read more here:

Meanwhile in Westminster, Theresa May is attempting to persuade, threaten and cajole her openly-rebelling Cabinet members and MPs to agree about the future of the UK-EU relationship. It is worth remembering that although the public has not yet been shown the proposal the Commission has seen a copy.

They rejected it:

Incidentally, so did David Davis:

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European Parliament Digital Single Market Copyright Vote


SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today welcomed the refusal by the full European Parliament of the negotiating mandate on the reform of copyright in the EU Digital Single Market by 318 votes to 278 with 31 abstentions.

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Scotland in Europe update: 29th June 2018

So the June Council meeting has been and gone, and the UK has little to show for it. While the Tory Party continues to argue with itself, the rest of Europe is getting on with their lives, focussing on the issues that matter to them. The EU27 produced a brief summary of the current state of affairs, available to read here:

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Scotland in Europe Update 22nd June 2018

While the scheme announced this week to register EU nationals in the UK is superior to the system that exists for non-EEA nationals, it is clearly a long way short of what was promised by the Leave campaign.

To start with, nobody made clear that EU citizens who used iPhones would be treated differently to those who have Android phones! More seriously, I must admit I also had a shiver run down my spine when Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes promised “a proportionate response” for any citizens (including children) who fail to register in time. Since the UK Government is the only government in Europe to allow indefinite detention of migrants, this is not reassuring. The details are here:

As we find out more information, I’ll be sure to let you know more but for my part I wish to re-emphasise what I have said before: Scotland is your home and you are welcome here.

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Scotland in Europe Update: 15 June 2018

Events have become increasingly surreal, and like Alice in Wonderland I wonder when something resembling common sense and normality will return. I am still trying to work out which of the current crop of UK Government ministers are Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

This week MPs rejected an amendment to have a meaningful say on the final deal and rejected another to stay in the Single Market. Whatever the referendum was about, it was not a mandate to strip democracy from the UK or to destroy our economy. MPs must have a meaningful vote, i.e. not simply the UK Government’s ‘deal or no deal’, for there to be any chance of reasonable compromise emerging. The Tory rebels who failed to rebel are now claiming they were misled by Theresa May. Hopefully they have learned and will have the courage of their convictions in future.

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Scotland in Europe Update 8th June 2018

We need to stop Brexit. Scotland voted against it, across every counting region, even after a rubbish and lacklustre UK-wide Remain campaign.

Almost two years later, it is clear to anyone with any wit to look that there’s no good news in it for our society nor our economy. There’s no good news for the fish catching sector because EU market access is essential for our product, and the processing and aquaculture sectors face a doomsday scenario.

Peace in Northern Ireland is under serious threat. EU nationals – new Scots – feel anxious in our society. Brexit is being used as a pretext to rip up the devolution settlement, neutering our national Parliament for years to come – if not forever.

I also, to be frank, do not see any scenario in which Brexit will make independence for Scotland more likely. Quite the reverse. I think as people experience the economic chaos Brexit will bring, they’ll stick to as much certainty as possible, even if it is the certainty of shared disaster.

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