This week we have begun to see the mask slipping. Make no mistake - Brexit Britain is going to be a mean, nasty little place. Eva Johanna Holmberg was one of around 100 EU nationals to be sent a letter stating she was to be deported. The letter (which can be read here twitter.com/NaomiOhReally) was apparently sent in error but hardly proved surprising. Frankly, there should be sackings and resignations over this, but I doubt it will happen.
When Theresa May promised to create a hostile environment for migrants she meant it, and this is the end result. Meanwhile Finland and the rest of Europe has looked on in horror:
It is also unsurprising that EU nationals are leaving because of the environment in the UK.
I can only imagine how distressing this must be for the citizens concerned. Despite not having the powers required to counter the actions of the UK Government, the European Parliament and the Scottish Government will continue to do all we can to protect the rights of citizens.
For my own part, I wish to reassure all EU citizens that you are welcome in Scotland and that Scotland is your home.
Over the past two weeks the UK has released a whole series of position papers. Yet again the EU’s transparency is setting the tone and is forcing the UK to follow. Here is what the UK has put forward ahead of next week’s negotiations.
Customs arrangements – a future partnership:
Northern Ireland and Ireland:
Continuity in the availability of goods for the EU and the UK:
Confidentiality and access to documents:
Providing a cross border civil-judicial cooperation framework – a future partnership:
Enforcement and dispute resolution – a future partnership:
The exchange and protection of personal data:
A few words on these:
I couldn’t simply leave these as a set of links, so here a few of my thoughts. The Customs proposal suggests either a streamlined customs border or no customs border between the UK and EU. The first would involve the UK remaining in the Common Transit Convention and agreeing with the EU that some firms would become trusted traders and therefore will need to file less paperwork. In combination with number plate recognition cameras this would aim to reduce queues and friction.
It sounds to me like this is going to create a lot more bureaucracy and smaller companies will inevitably find it more difficult to get this so-called trusted status.
The second proposal is even more fanciful as it would require every product and component imported to the UK be tracked to the consumer, wherever they were in the EU. When the component is part of a manufacturing chain this will be particularly difficult if not impossible.
These proposals are unrealistic, onerous and will create masses of red tape.
Ultimately, staying within the Single Market and Customs Union is the only real solution to avoiding the problems raised by leaving the EU!
All of this has left the Irish Taoiseach puzzled.
And senior diplomats involved in the negotiations have described the Irish proposal as a fairy tale. They went on to discuss the papers: “most of them are about how not to ruin things and not on how to fix them.”
Curiously Die Welt thought the papers read more like an accession request than a withdrawal position.
As Michel Barnier and others have made clear, the exit talks come first.
What the UK needs is a methodology for calculating the exit costs. The EU has published a list of all the liabilities that the UK has:
The UK has yet to produce such a paper. It is remarkable that the UK still does not have a worked-out position on the first item to be negotiated.
As the Slovenian PM has said, it looks increasingly unlikely that the UK will be talking about trade in the autumn because there has not been enough progress on citizens’ rights or the financial settlement.
In other news the European Investment Bank, which financed almost £7 billion of projects in the UK last year, has effectively imposed a moratorium on funding any new projects.
You can read more about the role of the European Investment Bank in Scotland here:
The Atlantic Council has written an insightful analysis of how Brexit might impact on intelligence sharing.
The British Freight Transport Association has warned that a no deal scenario could make supply chains unreliable.
Liam Fox is looking at being able to override the Scottish and Welsh Governments when striking free trade agreements after Brexit.
The Welsh and Scottish Governments met to discuss working together to protect devolution.
They agreed to put forward a series of amendments to the Great Repeal Bill to counter the serious risks to devolution.
Around half of the businesses operating in the UK’s food supply chain have reported that EU workers are considering leaving.
Dr Monique Ebell of National Institute of Economic and Social Research has argued how a hard Brexit will not 'turbo-charge' our economy.
Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott has written that the UK “now risks leaving the EU in a state of insouciance as to the consequences. And the consequences may well be extreme.”