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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:

There is more to this than what is morally right; migration is also economically essential. If we want to have a successful economy with jobs, tax revenue and all the that goes with that (such as funding the NHS) then we need migrants from the EU and further abroad. This week the British Chambers of Commerce warned the UK Government about the dangers of implementing a “draconian and damaging” visa system.

Such a plea backs up what the Scottish Government has said for years. Scotland both economically and demographically relies on migration, and any system to curb it will be incredibly damaging. It is a privilege that people from around the world have chosen to make Scotland their home and in the face of UK Government policy I just want to echo the comments of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shortly after the referendum result: “You remain welcome here, Scotland is your home, and your contribution is valued.”

So long as I have any say, that will remain the case.

Yours aye,


Boris Johnson gave a speech that, despite the billing, neither reached out to those who think leaving the EU is a tragic mistake, nor contained any further hints of the UK’s plan. Quite possibly because there still isn’t one!

The Irish Government and Copenhagen Economics have produced a major study on the impact of Brexit upon Ireland. It is not happy reading, but it shows how an independent state can respond.

Meanwhile, before the Brexiteers start crying that Ireland should follow the UK out of the EU, Fintan O'Toole wrote an excellent column on Ireland’s independence in Europe. Read it from a Scottish perspective and think how much better off Scotland could be.

There are now about 20 extradition cases from Ireland on hold because of Brexit.

The Institute for Government have produced this handy guide to rules of origin.

And if you made it through that, the UK Trade Policy Observatory produced this important piece covering the problems with transition and how they could be tackled. It isn’t light reading but these details matter if we are not going to go over a cliff edge in just over 12 months’ time.

This week’s episode of the podcast Cakewatch from Chris Kendall and Steve Bullock also discussed transition.

Kirsty Hughes and Tobias Lock have put together this piece for the National explaining where we are with Brexit right now.

The UK has ‘huge misunderstanding’ regarding the Customs Union, according to Danuta Hübner, a member of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group.

“Leaving the EU will be bad for Scotland and Scotland’s third sector – exacerbating already difficult circumstances for the sector and the people and communities they work with and support every day across the country.” This is the conclusion of John Downie, chair of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

The EU is standing up for the rights of citizens in the workplace as the ‘gig economy’ emerges as another area of dispute with the UK Government.

Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland, has warned that time is running out for the negotiations.

The Institute of Directors have also called for the UK to form a Customs Union with the EU.

Finally, I have warned of the danger to food production that we face due to Brexit. Farming is at the heart of Scottish society, and damage to it harms all of us.

If you wish to read more of my thoughts, you can see my national column.