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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.

At first look, the paper has five main areas of focus:

  • Economy
  • Communities
  • The Union (including protecting the Northern Ireland peace process)
  • Democracy
  • The UK’s place in the world.

And confirms that the UK will remain in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering group met to discuss the White Paper and released the following statement.

But the bottom line is simple – the Tory opening gambit for the future UK-EU relationship is poor, mean, inferior and far more complicated than the current arrangement. Scotland deserves better, and I’ll keep doing what I can.



“It is catastrophic and she is to blame.” Politico pulls no punches in this piece on Theresa May, the Zombie PM

Unable to resist one last lie, Boris Johnson lied again in his resignation letter. Why break the habit of a political lifetime, Boris?

US President Donald Trump has praised Johnson and said the UK will “probably not” get a trade deal with the US. Then again the President has been known to be somewhat inconsistent. On occasion.

After all, notes Thomas Wright, Trump backed Brexit, then used it as leverage.

Perhaps the week’s most succinct analysis of Brexit came from Fintan O’Toole. “When you take away all the heroic elements of Brexit, all the epic thrills of throwing off the oppressor and beginning a new history, what you are left with is just this – a country that has gone to enormous trouble to humiliate itself.”

Donald Tusk has reminded us that – from the EU side – Brexit isn’t inevitable.

The New York Times published this utterly blistering take-down of Boris Johnson and his “casual dishonesty”.

While Nick Cohen isn’t letting him off the hook for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the mother still languishing in an Iranian prison.

Facebook has been hit with the maximum possible fine of £500,000 for breaking the law during the Brexit referendum.

A bit of legal background on the issue.

If the British people were duped by an illegal Brexit referendum, they deserve to know about it, says Darren Jones MP, calling for a judge-led inquiry.

While the Telegraph is busy asking if Theresa May is guilty of treason, two years after an MP was murdered, its readers are turning on Brexit.

“The empty laugh of a clown” – looks back at David Davis’ two years as Brexit Secretary.

Was there nothing the Commission would like to say in tribute to Davis’s sterling role as chief Brexit negotiator, The Irish Times asked. Nothing.

The power struggle in London brings the country closer to a precipice, says Deutsche Welle's Barbara Wesel.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Theresa May’s Brexit plan. “It’s good that proposals are on the table - I can say that much, without getting into details.”

Tick tock, says France.

Ministers have reportedly drawn up plans to stockpile processed food in case the EU talks collapse. With that in mind, Bella Caledonia has a piece on the stubbornness and hysteria of the Brexiteers.

What food should we stockpile? The Guardian has some advice! But in all seriousness, we need a free flow of goods so we can avoid food rotting at ports. Just one of many issues the Leave campaign hand waved away as "project fear" when it was pointed out during the referendum.

On that note, the UK Government is now having to scramble for a Plan B to keep the lights on in Northern Ireland. The island of Ireland shares a single energy market, but next March the North may have to rely on generator barges in the Irish Sea.

“Until 2016 British foreign policy blended partnership in Europe with influence in Washington. Now its ship of state is navigating without a compass.” An excellent piece from Philip Stephens in the FT on the ‘special relationship’.

Finally, Ireland’s bid for election to the UN Security Council is another example of what independence in Europe actually means. “Empathy, partnership and independence” indeed.