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Scotland in Europe Update: 1st February 2019

For the sake of her own Party unity and another few months in Downing Street, Theresa May has trashed her own deal. The deal it has taken two years of heartbreak to get, the deal that countless hours have been spent on by people who really would have rather been doing something else. Innumerable civil service discussions, expending credibility and good faith, to get to a text she threw under the bus at the first opportunity. Ian Dunt has produced an excellent summary of what the Commons did, so if you want the grisly details click here:

It is astounding to witness a government whip its own MPs to vote down its own deal. Remember May solemnly agreed the backstop (twice); she proposed its form; she asked for and got help from EU27 in selling the withdrawal agreement. She promised she’d be able to hawk it to Parliament. Most MPs seem to have no idea or have conveniently forgotten that the EU27 line – that this is the only withdrawal agreement available, and that it will not be re-opened – was a position taken in response to May’s need to force her own MPs to agree to it.


Future relationship negotiations will now be conducted in a trust-and-goodwill-free zone. Requests for concessions will be dismissed. Of course, the EU27 will put options on the table, it is what grown-ups do but the UK will have to decide to take or leave them. MPs cannot simply keep voting for unicorns that do not exist. You can read more of my thoughts in my National column:

I still think we can stop Brexit. It is in Scotland’s interests to do so, whether you’re unionist or pro-independence. But it has become harder because we saw that, for the MPs in their Palace by the Thames, their short-term interests matter more than us, or Ireland, or the rest of the world. Scotland deserves better than this. We all do.




In a moment of delusional exceptionalism, MPs supported the Malthouse Compromise.

This “compromise” is unfortunately complete nonsense. This piece by Peter Ungphakorn explains why.

You can read the response of President Juncker and Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier here:

I joined a group of UK MEPs noting that MPs who genuinely want to find a way out of the gridlock need to give up imagining there is a “good” Brexit or a “better” Brexit.

The Information Commissioner has fined Leave.EU and an insurance company owned by Arron Banks £120,000 for “serious breaches of electronic marketing laws and is set to review how both are complying with data protection laws.”

“Our supply chains are closely linked to Europe – nearly one third of the food we eat in the UK comes from the EU.” The heads of Sainsbury’s, ASDA, M&S, Co-op, Waitrose, KFC, Pret, Lidl, McDonald’s, Costcutter and the British Retail Consortium wrote a joint letter to MPs warning that a no deal Brexit will reduce the availability and shelf life of many foods.

In a move which reassured nobody, the UK Government has announced that they will prioritise medicines over food in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Institute of Directors has undertaken a survey which reveals that nearly a third of all firms are looking overseas due to Brexit.

The UK Government have announced a temporary scheme for people coming here from the EU after a no deal Brexit. It is deeply concerning that this announcement does not explain what the eventual criteria will be.

The EU have also started to work through the options and EU ambassadors agreed that, “following Brexit, UK citizens coming to the Schengen area for a short stay (90 days in any 180 days) should be granted visa free travel.” Beyond that… Who knows?

That EU citizens in the UK are suffering from anxiety is entirely the fault of the UK Government who could have ended the uncertainty years ago.

The House of Commons voted in favour of ending freedom of movement post-Brexit.

This happened because, despite a small Tory rebellion, Labour dithered about what to do, meaning only 178 Labour MPs voted against. As Labour MPs said to Corbyn, this is not good enough.

Some Labour MPs are also considering supporting Theresa May in exchange for cash.

The pro-remain parties of Northern Ireland agree that the backstop must stay if we are to leave but also that “any opportunity to reconsider Brexit should be taken.”

The House of Commons Exiting the European Union Committee have produced this response to the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration which covers are lot of the options we now face. The bottom line is simple: no deal is not an option.

Beatrice Heuser, Professor of International Relations at the University of Glasgow, has written an important piece on the damage Brexit will do to the UK’s security role.

Scottish Government Ministers are rushing forward urgent legislation to (as much as possible) prepare businesses and consumers for a no-deal Brexit.

Scotland’s Chief Constable has issued a thinly veiled warning that public figures should be very careful about their language on immigration.

The EU-Japan trade agreement which establishes a free trade area with a combined market of around 640 million consumers, accounting for roughly a third of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) entered into force. You can read more here:

And finally, Politico published a heart-warming piece on (possibly) the last Brussels Burns supper before Brexit.