After Brexit talks were postponed to allow the UK time to get its act together, some progress is reported in the latest round of UK-EU talks. The EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said there were still “big gaps” between the sides, but the key issue of citizens’ rights has at last seen some agreement. Reality is dawning for the Brexiteers.
Just this week, the US slapped a tariff duty of 219% on Bombardier - the aircraft manufacturer which employs 4000 people in Northern Ireland - leading Prime Minister Theresa May to appeal directly to President Trump to intervene and hinting that the UK will stop ordering US Boeing planes. That post-Brexit free trade deal with the US is looking weak and wobbly, as is the relationship between the Conservatives and the DUP.
I hope that this is the beginning of a frank discussion around Brexit. It’s not too late to reassess our place in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron warned that the EU has to reinvent itself and “give Europe back to its citizens” so perhaps this rejuvenated EU and a referendum on the Brexit deal will meet at the crossroads:
Well. The Prime Minister’s speech in Florence today was underwhelming at best; where once we had ‘strong and stable’, now we have got ‘smooth and sensible’. What about ‘substance’?
May referred to more powers for Scotland but it's been clear for a while now that she intends to do the opposite. The Brexit half-truths continued as she repeatedly remarked that the UK would take back control of its borders, a false narrative given we have never been part of the Schengen area. The expectation that Brexit will be done and dusted within a two-year transition period is ambitious indeed.
The full text of the speech is available here: www.gov.uk/...
“The UK never felt truly at home in the EU” said Mrs May. I disagree. Despite decades of misinformation, a Eurosceptic or disinterested media, and a mostly lacklustre Remain campaign, Scotland voted to Remain in the EU. It’s crucial that we remember that.
So, there it is. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill has been agreed in principle by the House of Commons and now moves on to the detailed consideration in the Commons and the Lords. This is despite a clear majority of Scots rejecting Brexit across every local authority in the land, and an even clearer majority of Scotland’s representatives in Westminster rejecting it too.
While I think Scotland can do better independent, I don’t want to see the UK have a bad time. The Bill approved in the early hours of Tuesday morning is offensive to me in almost every possible way.
This week the European Parliament got back to business after the summer recess and set about assessing what had been, or rather hadn’t been, achieved in the negotiations that had taken place over the summer. President Tajani’s comments say it all:
"Given the current state of play of negotiations and the current position of the UK, it would seem very difficult that sufficient progress can be achieved by October on separation issues in order to enter phase 2 of the negotiations. In this case I would think it wise for the European Council to postpone this point to its December meeting."
Brexit is not inevitable, not when the people supposedly in charge of it don’t know what they want, those opposed to it can’t agree on an alternative and we in Scotland don’t want it at all and voted clearly and decisively to reject it.
I’m in a luckier position than many MEPs in that my constituency, the whole of Scotland, voted to remain in every counting region, from Shetland to Stranraer. My instructions are to keep us in
So I’ll repeat here what I’ve already promised myself, my team, and the public: I will not be complicit in an act of national self-harm, especially one that is so demonstrably against the interest of the people I serve. EU membership is best for Scotland. Let’s not be browbeaten into acquiescence.
So, that was the third round of negotiations. I must admit, even I thought this was the week when the UK would get serious. In reality, nothing has happened. As Michel Barnier, the lead EU negotiator, said at the end of the week “we made no decisive progress on the main subjects”.
The situation is rapidly becoming a farce. From the very beginning the EU has made clear that citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border come first, and then talk of trade deals will follow.Read more
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.Read more
My thoughts and solidarity go out to Barcelona, a wonderful city reeling from yesterday’s horrific attack. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani released a statement unequivocally condemning the attack, and the Parliament fell silent today to commemorate the victims.
We live in frightening, unsettling times, but as a wise woman once said, we have far more in common than that which divides us. Stay safe.
So this week the main action took place in Scotland as ministers from the Scottish and UK Governments met to discuss the Great Repeal Bill. The current bill is a blatant power grab and will mean a range of devolved policy areas currently controlled by the Scottish Parliament will be returned to Westminster and Whitehall.Read more
Last week the UK Government looked at undermining our farmers and food standards through a TTIP style US trade deal; this week Michael Gove began selling out Scottish fishermen.
(And coverage in English: www.bbc.co.uk/...)
In a marked contrast to the rhetoric of Leave in Scotland it seems that foreign boats will continue to access Scottish waters after Brexit. I am not sure many will be surprised by the volte-face but the audacity of it all is breath taking.Read more
So the cat is out of the bag. Remember how many of you were active in the campaign against TTIP (and a few folk even voted Leave over it)? Well, the UK Government is now cosying up to Donald Trump to secure just such a deal.
Whereas the EU was accountable – and ultimately decided against such a deal because the US would not make concessions – the UK will simply sign up to it all. As I argued during the referendum campaign, at its heart the EU is a democratic organisation and TTIP could be (and was) rejected. The European Parliament has a binding vote on any such deal, as it will on the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU.Read more