Scotland in Europe Update: 2nd February 2018

This week kicked off with Alberto Nardelli of Buzzfeed publishing an important article containing a leaked version of the UK Government’s Brexit impact analysis.

The figures are stark. If we crash out with no deal, growth will be reduced by 8%; if we leave with a Canada style deal, growth will be cut by 5%; if we remain in the single market, growth will be cut by 2%. Anybody paying attention will notice these are remarkably similar to the figures produced by the Scottish Government. As we have consistently said – if Brexit is to happen – the ‘least bad’ option is to keep membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.

The Tory Brexiteers are of course outraged, and (in between accusing the Civil Service of lying) have descended into another week of infighting. Whilst they work out their differences, it is worth having a brief stocktake of where we are on the only stage that matters: the actual negotiations in Brussels which will recommence next week.

The phase 1 agreement on sufficient progress agreed before Christmas must be converted into a legally binding text and signed off. As part of this we must also complete the parts of phase 1 that are still not complete, namely citizens’ rights and the Irish border. While this is being done, talks will begin on creating a transition phase. The EU Commission guidelines for these negotiations were adopted this week:

This deal is being negotiated upon the request of the UK and means that the UK will remain fully bound by EU law - subject to the European Court of Justice but with no MEPs or ministers in Council meetings. This too will need to be converted into a legal text.

Up to now we have been dealing with the simple bits! On 22 March things get very interesting as the EU Council will set its guidelines for the negotiation with the UK regarding its future trading relationship. The aim being to have a political agreement in place (alongside the previously mentioned legal texts) by October, leaving time for everything to be approved by the European Parliament and Council before the end of the Article 50 period.

Ignoring the lack of time, the key problem we face now is that such a negotiation requires the UK Government to have a position. This week shows quite how far away from that we are.

Yours aye,


Buzzfeed also released the UK Government’s assessment of the impact of reducing migration. This shows that “the cost of falling EU migration would more than wipe out the economic boost of a US trade deal.”

The full EU Commission transition negotiation guidelines can be read here:

The EU Commission has also released a series of guides for businesses explaining the potential impacts of Brexit on their sector.

If the UK wishes to remain in the EU’s trade deals with other countries, then it seems likely that it will have to make a number of concessions to them.

Brexit ‘ultras’ are undermining the integrity of the Civil Service, according to Steve Bullock, a former civil servant.

Jo Maugham QC live-tweeted our court case on whether Article 50 can be revoked. We will find out early next week whether the case will continue onto a full hearing.

The Scottish Government has extended free tuition for EU students for 2019-2020

The Dutch Government have warned that a no-deal Brexit will cost between €387 and €627 million a year because of customs barriers.

Cliff Taylor of the Irish Times shows how the bodge which was agreed to in phase 1 simply cannot hold together for phase 2.

Michel Barnier has emphasised that a lot of work remains to secure a final deal on the Irish border.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have issued a warning that the EU withdrawal bill “disregards the devolution settlement”.

The House of Lords agree and have warned that the bill must be amended to make it constitutionally acceptable.

Stephen Tierney has written a piece on Devolution and the Repatriation of Competences which is well worth a read.

A backer of the Brexit-advocating Legatum group has gained EU citizenship from Malta.

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre has produced this report on the implications of leaving the EU for health and social care in Scotland.

Ryanair has announced that tickets for its 2019 summer flights will contain a warning that bookings are "subject to the regulatory environment allowing this flight to take place".

Sir John Sawers, who was head of MI6 until 2014, has warned that security co-operation should not be used a bargaining chip.

A case in Ireland has been referred to the European Court of Justice because there is uncertainty regarding the future of the European Arrest Warrant in the UK after it leaves the EU.

Scotland’s Lord Advocate James Wolffe has warned that a no-deal scenario would “materially diminish” Scotland’s ability to fight crime.

Gibraltar has said that it wants to select which elements of the Brexit deal will apply.

UK Banks will need to move to Europe to maintain their passporting rights European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis warns.

Anton Muscatelli has written an excellent analysis of potential future relationships that the UK could develop with the EU.

And finally, my own column for the week on how the EU helps us learn the lessons of the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the eventual product of politics gone wrong and the removal of human rights. We must never go down that road again.