Scotland in Europe Update 27th July 2018

So this has been the week of ‘no deal’. The head of Amazon warned it could cause civic unrest. (thetimes.co.uk/...); the NHS would need to stockpile drugs (bbc.co.uk/...) and the Brexit Secretary himself Dominic Raab has promised to make sure we don’t starve (twitter.com/...).

I must admit, all this hyperbole is rather too much, and I agree with Tánaiste Simon Coveney that there is far too much talk of a no deal: rte.ie/...

To be clear, one of the most damaging myths which seems to be emerging is that a no-deal Brexit is somehow a realistic or desirable option. It would be a catastrophe. The laws which ensure food, people, and everything else can move in and out of the external UK borders would cease to apply. It is fall of Yugoslavia and USSR stuff. It is unconscionable.

I don’t deny there are some who are pushing for it, but I do not see it as a remotely likely scenario. The fact that it's the sorts of the people I dislike most talking about it makes me all the more suspicious.

You can read more of my thoughts on this in the my National column for the week: thenational.scot/...

My concern now is that there will indeed be a Withdrawal Agreement, but that it will kick all the important issues down the road to a point where it is too late. Once the UK leaves the EU, there’s no easy way back. The Brexiters may huff and puff but they will accept any humiliation to get the UK over the line in March next year, knowing that the political price of reapplying will be too high even if there was political will to do it. They’ll call that Brexit, call it a success, and then trash whatever is agreed.

 


 

The UK Government has taken the Scottish Government to court over the legality of the Scottish Parliament’s continuity bill.
bloomberg.com/...

The EU has received a citizens’ initiative regarding the retention of EU citizens’ rights by individuals. You can read more here:
euractiv.com/...

What this means is that:

  • Commission representatives will meet the organisers so they can explain in detail the issues raised in their initiative
  • The organisers will have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament
  • The Commission will adopt a formal response spelling out what action, if any, it will propose in response to the citizens' initiative, and its reasons.

The response, which will take the form of a communication, will be formally adopted by the College of Commissioners and published in all official EU languages. I will obviously do anything I can to support this, but I urge caution. This is a slow and technical process with a lot of legal hurdles, many of which could prove insurmountable. The actual initiative can be found here:
ec.europa.eu/...

The UK Government has published its white paper for the withdrawal agreement.
gov.uk/...

Steve Peers has undertaken a very good and concise legal analysis.
twitter.com/...

Tony Conelly of RTE has written an excellent summary of the options for moving forwards.
rte.ie/...

Leo Varadkar has said he is willing to talk about alternatives to the backstop but that any proposals must be workable.
irishtimes.com/...

Michel Barnier has rejected the UK’s customs proposal as it is set out in Theresa May's Brexit white paper. The key line is:

“The EU cannot – and will not – delegate the application of its customs policy and rules, VAT and excise duty collection to a non-member, who would not be subject to the EU's governance structures.”
europa.eu/...

In another act of hypocrisy Jacob Rees-Mogg’s financial firm has launched a second Irish fund.
ft.com/...

He has also confessed that it may take 50 years before we realise any of the ‘benefits’ of Brexit.
huffingtonpost.co.uk/...

The numbers of teachers coming to Scotland from EU has ‘fallen off a cliff’ according to work done by Holyrood magazine.
holyrood.com/...

Steve Bannon is to open a Brussels office to help far right candidates in next year's European Parliament elections.
euobserver.com/...

Terry Entoure has published a piece on common space explaining very well why independence in the EU must be the starting point for an independent Scotland.
commonspace.scot/...

Britain and the EU have started to formally split their WTO agreements. You'll be able to read more about this in my National column next week.
reuters.com/...