Well, it has been another busy week in Brussels and Edinburgh but things do seem to be moving in a more positive direction. The UK has finally decided to honour its international obligations:
This means that there is a much better chance of moving forwards with the talks after Christmas. There is still work to be done and frankly it is remarkable that it has taken this long but at least we are seeing some progress. So far, the European Parliament response has been cautious as this release from the Brexit Steering Group shows:
Let’s wait and see what the details are.
The big issue to prevent the negotiations’ progressing now is Northern Ireland. The Irish Government are rightly demanding assurances on how the UK is going to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic without being in the single market and customs union. Because the Tories are currently propped up by the DUP in Westminster, they have very little room to manoeuvre.
This is, of course, a problem entirely of their own making. If they committed to keep the entirety of the UK in the single market and customs union, this problem could be solved immediately but the Brexiteers are still pushing for the hardest of hard Brexits.
Over the next few weeks we will hopefully get some more answers.
A cross-party group of four Scots politicians (including yours truly) are leading a crowdfunded legal move to establish whether the UK can revoke article 50 if there was a democratic desire to do so.
The crowd funder is here for anyone interested:
The Scottish Government has again called upon the UK to publish its sectorial analysis on Brexit.
The National Institute Economic Review has produced an assessment of how various areas of the UK will be impacted upon by Brexit.
Kathy Sheridan in the Irish Times wonders why UK public opinion is “ignorant” on Brexit.
The Legatum Institute, which has close links to many Brexit supporters, is under investigation by the Charity Commission.
Nicola McEwen has written a piece for the Scottish Centre on European Relations that looks into Brexit’s impact on the devolution settlement in Scotland.
A report entitled ‘Brexit and the Sectors of the Scottish Economy’, commissioned by GMB Scotland and produced by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI), has warned that the UK Government’s current negotiating strategy will affect over £12 billion worth of exports from Scotland to the EU, supporting an estimated 134,000 jobs.
Michel Barnier has made a speech on future security co-operation and warned that the “logical consequence” of the UK’s position is:
- The UK defence minister will no longer take part in meetings of EU Defence Ministers; there will be no UK ambassador sitting on the Political and Security Committee.
- The UK can no longer be a framework nation: it will not be able to take command of EU–led operations or lead EU battlegroups.
- The UK will no longer be a member of the European Defence Agency or Europol.
- The UK will not be able to benefit from the European Defence Fund in the same way that Member States will.
- The UK will no longer be involved in decision-making, nor in planning EU defence and security instruments.
Charles Grant has written his 10 predictions for the Brexit talks.
Chris Deerin has written a powerful piece explaining why he cannot reconcile himself with Brexit.
David McAllister, a German MEP of Scottish origin, has said Brexit was a historic mistake.
The British Academy has published a list of those academic disciplines most at risk from losing staff due to Brexit.
The Scottish Government has published an Interim Report by the National Council of Rural Advisers on the impact of Brexit on agriculture.
Brexit has meant less people are going on holiday abroad and more are camping.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov remains worried that there will be a hard Brexit.
European banks are withdrawing from the UK. So far, since the vote to leave the EU, they have cut their assets in the UK by $425 billion according to the European Banking Authority.
Finally, European economic think tank Bruegel have published a fascinating set of charts that explain Brexit’s implications.