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Scotland in Europe Update: 14th June 2019

The Tories really look like they might actually do it. Maybe they will actually put Boris Johnson in charge of the UK. Certainly, he came out on top in the first round of voting amongst Tory MPs. It is worth remembering that this is the same Boris Johnson who is reportedly refusing to rule out suspending Parliament to force through a no deal and has reinvented himself more times than any of us can remember. Who knows what he will actually do if put in charge, but Scotland did not choose him.

The contest is not done yet but it is worth highlighting something of interest about the tone of the campaign. Nobody is now defending Brexit.

Indeed, in the recent European elections even the Brexit Party weren’t actually defending Brexit. The narrative has shifted as the false promises of the Leave campaign have been exposed and the Brexiters have tacitly accepted that leaving the European Union is a bad idea but because it is the ‘will of the people’ it must be delivered anyway. From here in Scotland this is particularly galling.

How many times must we vote Remain for the UK Government to pay attention?

Meanwhile, back in Brussels we are thrilled to announce that Alyn has been elected President of the European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament. EFA is a political grouping of progressive nationalist and regionalist parties including the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Catalan ERC.

MEPs work in groupings in the Parliament to maximise their power and influence along ideological rather than country lines, so the socialists tend to work in the S&D (European Socialists), centrists join Guy Verhofstadt’s Renew Europe (formerly called ALDE), and most conservative MEPs plump for the largest group, the EPP, except the UK Conservatives who Cameron took out of this influential bloc to appease his Eurosceptics. EFA is paired with the Greens (consisting of Green MEPs from all over the EU) and are likely to make up the fourth largest bloc in the Parliament. This means Alyn is also First Vice-President of the Group, which sends a strong message about Scotland’s place in the EU.

The vote was unanimous, and so by electing a Scot from a vocally pro-Remain party as First VP, this recognises that not only is Scotland a European nation looking to play its part in the EU, it also shows we are welcomed and valued by the EU27. Scotland has a fair amount of sympathy from MEPs and EU officials who are looking at the Westminster shambles, looking at the clear, calm and professional attitude of the Scottish Government, and then looking back to Westminster.



The First Minister was over in Brussels and met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier.

She also gave a speech to the European Policy Centre, the text of which you can read here.

This week Labour brought forward a motion to secure against no deal. It was defeated by 11 votes. All 35 SNP MPs voted for the motion but only 222 Labour MPs supported the motion and remarkably eight voted against with 17 abstaining. This is unforgivable and it is not the first time Labour have failed to rally together to take no deal of the table.

Scottish Government Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has urged the UK Government to take responsibility for failures which saw some EU citizens denied a vote in the recent European elections.

The European Commission have released another assessment of the EU27’s preparation for a no deal Brexit. They concluded “that there is no need to amend any measures on substance and that they remain fit for purpose.” No such preparations have been made by the UK Government.

Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth has repeated that the deal as already agreed will not be renegotiated.

The Electoral Commission Director of Regulation, Louise Edwards has said:

“It is legitimate for any political party or campaigner to adopt a fundraising strategy that focuses on raising small sums. Our visit to The Brexit Party has enabled us to make specific recommendations to the party that will support it to meet its legal responsibilities when it comes to receiving funds. Should it fail to meet those responsibilities, this will be considered in line with our Enforcement Policy.”

Rafael Behr has written a brilliant column on the state of the Conservative leadership contest.

Dr Jim McConalogue has put together an analysis of what is driving the contest.

The Food Standards Agency is struggling to prepare for Brexit, according to the National Audit Office.

Professor John Curtice has put together his thoughts on the EU election results. Though we may not agree with all of them, they are thought provoking and worth a read.

UK GDP is slowing because firms have reduced stockpiling.

The IFS has concluded that stalling income growth “is in large part because real earnings fell, due to a rise in inflation following the depreciation of the pound after the UK voted to leave the European Union.”

The European Parliament Research Service has released a summary of world trade defence policies from the EU, US and WTO perspectives.

They have also put together a couple of fact sheets on the European Parliament. Firstly, on the powers of the institution.

And secondly, on its organisation.

The House of Commons Library has put together briefing paper considering the UK’s conformity with product standards and safety marking in the lead up to Brexit.