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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.

The other reason I fear for the future is that there is no good news for independence in Brexit. The extent to which UK EU membership underpinned so many fundamental parts of our independence proposition in 2014 was crucial.

I firmly believe independence in Europe is Scotland’s best future – indeed Brexit has shown just how dysfunctional and washed up the UK really is, but we will become independent not in an abstract vacuum but within a continental and global framework of complex and finely balanced relationships. We’ll only ever have one land border, and both sides of the border at Carlisle remaining within the EU single market and customs union makes independence, for now, easier.

So, stopping Brexit on March 29 is in our best interests and that is what I will continue to fight to do. I’ve lost count of how many flow charts my team and I have done in the last months, each more convoluted than the last. Every option is inelegant. But Scotland voted to remain, and that is my instruction.



I have written to the European Commission requesting that they investigate the UK Government’s latest ‘no deal’ preparations. I simply do not think it is legitimate to – at the last-minute – start throwing tax payers’ money around to cover your own incompetence.

Joanna Cherry QC MP followed up on this and very effectively exposed the problems with the contract during the Exiting the EU Committee of the House of Commons with the relevant minister. It is well worth a read from Q3670 to Q3677

The ridiculous traffic jam exercise that the UK Government undertook in Kent last week was "too little too late" according to the Road Haulage Association.

The UK Government suffered a number of defeats in the House of Commons this week. Firstly, an amendment to the Finance Bill showing there is no support in the Commons for a ‘no deal’.

Secondly, an amendment from Dominic Grieve MP was supported by parliament forcing the Government to come back to Parliament within three days of any defeat of the UK Government Brexit deal.

The second of these has caused some consternation from Brexiters who are upset that Parliament is taking back control. David Allen Green has put together a wonderful piece explaining the process and exposing their hypocrisy

The House of Lords Grand Committee (don’t ask…) is also giving the UK Government a headache.

The UK Government is refusing to pay the £65 fee they are inflicting on EU citizens for their own Civil Servants.

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government's external affairs secretary, has emphasised that UK Government immigration plans will be economically disastrous for Scotland.

The UK Government have produced a policy paper on the future of Northern Ireland in the UK.

Katy Hayward and David Phinnemore have put together a very handy explainer of the important issues.

As Leo Varadkar has emphasised "I don't think we could have a situation whereby the Northern Ireland Executive or Assembly had a veto power because that would essentially give one of the two communities a veto power over the other and that would create a difficulty."

Anand Menon and Jonathan Portes have quite rightly pointed out that ‘managed no deal’ is just more Brexit snake oil.

The Ferret have produced this important investigation into the ‘dark money’ behind the DUP’s Brexit campaign.

This piece by Richard Byrne echoes what I have said before: access to the Single Market is key for farmers.

President Macron has emphasised that no future trade deal will contain a clause for the UK’s audio-visual sector.

The EU has agreed that foreign investment firms wanting to operate in the euro zone must set up branches inside the bloc.

Andrew Duff has put together a thoughtful piece on the political declaration attached to the withdrawal agreement.

The CBI has warned that UK GDP could shrink by a further 8% in the event of a ‘no deal’.

Today I've been in London discussing whether the EU wants to stay with us.
90's Alyn would never have imagined that one day I'd be listening to Jarvis Cocker discuss an EU referendum. How times change!

And finally, here is a Brexit A-Z of the various terms in the Brexit debate.