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Scotland in Europe Update 8th June 2018

We need to stop Brexit. Scotland voted against it, across every counting region, even after a rubbish and lacklustre UK-wide Remain campaign.

Almost two years later, it is clear to anyone with any wit to look that there’s no good news in it for our society nor our economy. There’s no good news for the fish catching sector because EU market access is essential for our product, and the processing and aquaculture sectors face a doomsday scenario.

Peace in Northern Ireland is under serious threat. EU nationals – new Scots – feel anxious in our society. Brexit is being used as a pretext to rip up the devolution settlement, neutering our national Parliament for years to come – if not forever.

I also, to be frank, do not see any scenario in which Brexit will make independence for Scotland more likely. Quite the reverse. I think as people experience the economic chaos Brexit will bring, they’ll stick to as much certainty as possible, even if it is the certainty of shared disaster.

Despite the glib sound bites like “sea of opportunity” or “green Brexit”, it is clear that there is nothing but downside short term, and absolutely no vision of anything even medium term. Even this week we heard that the long-awaited UK Government White Paper – which was supposed to give us all some clarity of what they even want to achieve in the longer term – will be delayed because this government can’t even agree across the Cabinet table. Almost TWO YEARS after triggering Article 50, itself a time-limited process. An act so reckless it defies explanation.

There’s plenty to be done. If you want to know more read the rest of my National column from this week:

Let’s get cracking.



After an utterly incoherent few days (I am not going to drive you all mad with every single spat inside the Tory party), the UK has put forward a backstop option. Unfortunately, it is time limited which means it is not a back-stop option as it will not prevent the arrival of a hard border. It just kicks the can further down the road.

Within minutes the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pointed this out!

Next Tuesday is a date for your diaries as the House of Commons are going to debate and vote on all 15 of the Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill in a day. Plenty of time for them to reflect and make informed choices then.

Helen Mountfield (a QC at Matrix Chambers) wrote an excellent piece for Prospect explaining how the UK Government’s stance is riddled with confusion.

Wells Fargo is looking at Paris and Dublin as post-Brexit hubs.

The Sunday Times leaked a series of Civil Service evaluations examining what would happen in the event of a No Deal Brexit. This from the second-worst scenario (not the worst!):

“the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks.”

Latest polling says that in hindsight 47% think Brexit was wrong vs only 40% right.

Open Europe have put forward a ‘compromise’ for the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Sadly it is still cherry picking. The EU is a legal body and you cannot simply dip in and out of the bits you want.

Adrienne Yong has warned that “the Home Office seems to want to downplay its obligations both under EU law and under the ECHR. The UK Government’s attempts to shirk its responsibilities, even before Brexit has occurred, do not set a positive tone for the protection of EU citizens’ rights going forward.”

There are fears (rightly so) that the UK Government’s plan for financial services post-Brexit won’t work.

Kristen Hopewell, a senior lecturer in international political economy and trade at Edinburgh University, has warned that because of Brexit “We may well see Scotland’s fish processing industry move to places like Poland in order to access the rest of the market tariff-free.”

Marine Scotland have produced an assessment of Brexit on the fishing sector which concluded:

  • All of the plausible trade scenarios modelled would leave Scotland worse off than the current situation as a member of the EU
  • Any increase in fishing quotas would be offset by increasing tariff and non-tariff measures once the UK leaves the European single market and customs union
  • Remaining in the single market and the customs union is the least worst outcome for the sector
  • Farmed salmon – the UK’s most valuable food export – could experience a decrease in export value of between 4 to 6% in the absence of free trade with the EU

The UK would like to keep the current trade deals that the EU has. That being the case, why leave?

One of the UK’s largest private sector unions backed a ‘people’s vote’ on the final terms of the deal secured by Theresa May.

European Governments are advising businesses not to use UK parts in goods for export ahead of the UK leaving the EU.

The Freight Transport association has issued a stark warning. “Under European law, unless an agreement is reached, there will only be 103 international haulage Permits to cover the 300,000 journeys made by British trucks to Europe each year. The logistics industry is being asked to decide who would get a Permit to drive if there are not enough to go around – in effect, being asked to destroy the businesses of its international haulage members.”

HMRC has given MPs a list of 39 IT projects put on hold because of its Brexit workload.

Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Mike Russell has written to David Lidington, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, expressing disappointment at the UK Government’s “reluctance to meet” representatives from across the Scottish Parliament following the decision not to consent to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Fabian Zuleeg of the European Policy Centre has produced a piece on Brexit: Stumbling over the backstop?

Open Britain have produced a wonderful assessment of the problems faced by the UK’s Global Britain strategy. The short version: trade deals with other countries cannot replace what we have with EU membership.

The Commission have proposed a budget allocation of €100 billion for 2021-2027 which includes €97.6 billion under Horizon Europe. It is heart-breaking that Scotland might not be a part of this.

And finally, Glasgow loves EU Group is hosting a Science Seminar on June 12th which promises to be a stimulating evening featuring many eminent scientists. They will discuss how Sciencebenefits from EU funding, partnerships and other aspects of EU cooperation.