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Scotland in Europe Update: 2nd November 2018

So the negotiations continue in Brussels quietly and behind the scenes. For what it’s worth, I think that the shape of the deal is basically done and we are now just waiting for Theresa May to get her cabinet in order so that she can sign it. As for getting it though the House of Commons with its arcane procedures and equally arcane MPs (SNP MPs notwithstanding!) that will be a different challenge.

What is the deal I hear you ask? Well… at this stage we don’t know. The negotiators are now in something they have named ‘the tunnel’ while they deal with the last of the nitty gritty details. Despite what some commentators seem to be implying, this has remained leak-proof so most of what is being said about it is simply conjecture. We will know soon enough what fate awaits Scotland, and then we can start to make our plans.

Meanwhile, there has been a seismic shift in European politics. ( On Sunday the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), won less than 30% of the vote – down from 38.3% in the last election – in an election in Hesse. Combined with disappointing results in Bavaria, it prompted Angela Merkel to announce that she will stand down as leader of the CDU.

Her departure will undoubtedly have a massive impact on the future of Germany and the rest of the EU at a time when we could use some stability and personal knowledge of the institutions. Though it is probably too soon to address Merkel’s legacy I would say that she showed extraordinary political bravery and decency in refusing to turn refugees away from her country’s borders. Remember, refugees do not want to be refugees. They are ordinary people fleeing unimaginable horrors. 

As Merkel herself said: “It was an extraordinary situation and I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint.”

I cannot imagine any UK Prime Minister from the last decade either pursuing that policy, or using those words, so let’s remember Merkel for that, whatever our political differences. As the atmosphere towards refugees and migrants gets ever more toxic, we will need politicians to show leadership and stand up for them as she did.



The National Crime Agency has launched an investigation into Arron Banks over 'electoral law offences'.

Meanwhile Theresa May is being asked to clarify whether she did indeed ‘block’ an investigation into Banks in 2016.

There was complete chaos this week as Caroline Nokes, the UK immigration minister, said “If somebody [an EU national] hasn’t been here prior to the end of March next year, employers will have to make sure they go through adequately rigorous checks to evidence somebody’s right to work.”

i.e. EU nationals arriving after next March would not be able to work legally. Cue a clarification that this was complete nonsense being issued. It is remarkable that the UK Government has so little clue what it is doing that ministers cannot answer the most basic questions. You can read a full breakdown from Politico:

Duncan Buchanan of the Road Haulage Association has warned about the dangers of a no deal: "We have just over 100 working days to go. We are not prepared. We are nowhere near prepared.

David Cameron temporarily united the country when a story of him being “bored” and considering a return to frontline politics broke. “Don’t bother” chorused public and politicians alike. Cue a hurried clarification to more anonymous ‘friends’ that he was happy in his shed.

So far the UK has only UK has only rolled over 14 of the 236 international treaties from the EU which it needs to.

Ian Dunt has written a brilliant column on the role of disinformation in the Brexit debate.

The Norwegians have pointed out that the EEA model is not an emergency temporary solution, despite what some MPs seem to think.

The Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group has written to David Lidington MP outlining their Brexit concerns.

The EU and UK have come to an arrangement to ensure that the EU has access to UK clearing houses in the event of a no-deal Brexit

The Netherlands is stepping up its preparation to become an EU financial trading hub post-Brexit.

The EU is still trying to find solutions to the UK’s intransigence on the Irish backstop.

The UK’s museums are concerned about Brexit, including the V&A who opened a museum in Dundee earlier this year. They warned that they “could face a bill for £25 million due to new import taxes on exhibits”.

Finally, the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee produced its report on whether or not to give consent to the UK international trade bill currently going through the House of Commons.