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Scotland in Europe Update 6th October 2017

The Tories are fighting amongst themselves like ferrets in a sack, while the UK’s national interest, however we define it, is ignored by them utterly. Shame on them. It is not good enough for Scotland, it is not good enough for the EU either.  

I said this before the Prime Minister’s disastrous speech but it is even more true now. She faces the prospect of rebellion from her MPs. I don’t want to emphasise again how maddening this is. In the face of the most complicated and time-sensitive negotiations the UK has conducted since the end of WWII, the Tories have wasted time on an election and now, even if May survives, they look set to waste even more time arguing about the leadership.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament debated the progress of the Brexit negotiations and passed a motion confirming that insufficient progress has been made to move on to the next stage in the discussions.

As I said, from Scotland, we agree that we have seen nowhere near enough progress on citizens’ rights, on Ireland or on the financial settlement. On citizens’ rights, I am receiving emails on a daily basis that would break your heart – people who have made choices about their lives, about their residence – on the basis of rights which they face having taken away. 

My first duty is to them. You can read (and watch) my full speech here:

and read the resolution we passed here:

As a side Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, also explained to Nigel Farage that honouring commitments is not holding the UK to ‘ransom’:

“There is no exit bill. There is simply the fact that at the point in time that you leave, we are asking you to settle the accounts. No more, no less. To pay what you have committed to pay.”

I could not have explained it better. His full speech can be read here:

I’ll be launching the Scotland in Europe book at SNP Conference this coming Monday, so come along if you want to pick up one of the limited print copies! Otherwise, keep an eye out for the pdf and print-on-demand versions coming soon. 

This ain’t over yet, and we need to make sure we have the facts to hand if we want to keep up the fight.



First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and held a "constructive and warm meeting". 

The Irish Government wants to keep a free trade area between Britain and Ireland post-Brexit.

According to this former advisor to David Cameron, Ireland was an ‘afterthought’ during the Brexit campaign.

On that note, the Irish foreign minister has raised concerns over the potential impact the Bombardier-Boeing trade dispute could have on the Northern Ireland peace process. As I mentioned last week, the US has slapped a 219% tariff duty on Bombardier, leading Theresa May to appeal directly to President Trump to intervene.

A leaked Commission document reveals that agri-food trade may be done on an all-Ireland basis post-Brexit.

David Davis has confessed that they are starting to plan for a ‘no deal’ scenario. This would be disastrous for Scotland (and the UK).

“The British government is lacking a clear concept despite talking a lot,” is the view of the BDI’s (the Federation of German Industries) managing director, Joachim Lang, “German companies with a presence in Britain and Northern Ireland must now make provisions for the serious case of a very hard exit. Anything else would be naive.”

You can read more coverage in the German press here:

According to Baker McKenzie, across four key manufacturing sectors EU export revenues would decline by a total of almost £17 billion per annum in the event of a hard Brexit.

Amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill from the Scottish and Welsh governments have been tabled at Westminster.

UK banks will become more complex – and therefore more risky – as a result of Brexit plans.

There is also a good analysis of this in Politico.

And the banks need a watertight Brexit transition deal by Christmas.

Goldman Sachs is continuing its preparations to move jobs from the UK to Frankfurt. 

Without the certainty of funding and support schemes for Scotland’s farmers, forward planning is ‘virtually impossible’ says Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary.

The US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, Uruguay and Thailand are opposing the UK’s proposal to divide WTO quotas from the EU. This is the beginning of a long fight and could be devastating for Scottish farming.

Amazon has been ordered to pay €250 million in taxes by the European Commission. 

If you only read one story about pig ears today, make it this one.

James Millar is putting together a new Brexit Breakdown podcast for The UK in a Changing Europe – worth bookmarking for the future.

Paul Stocker of Teesside University has written a fascinating piece on Brexit and the mainstreaming of the British far right.

The House of Lords has published a scathing report on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. 

Finally, I feel heartsick watching the events unfold in Catalonia. You can read more of my thoughts on this in my National Column.