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
Well, the second round of negotiations are complete and the good news is that nobody stormed out. Unfortunately, that really is the end of the good news.
The two big issues being negotiated were the financial settlement and EU citizens’ rights. On the first it was left to Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, to point out that unless the UK clarifies its position talks will stall:
“Comme je l'ai dit très clairement à David, une clarification de la position du Royaume-Uni est indispensable pour négocier et pour aboutir à des "progrès suffisants" sur ce dossier financier, qui est inséparable des autres dossiers du retrait.”
(“As I said very clearly to David, a clarification of the UK’s position is indispensable for us to negotiate and for us to make sufficient progress on this financial dossier, which is inseparable for the other withdrawal dossiers”.)
It seems remarkable that over a year after the vote, and on the first issue to be discussed, the UK simply doesn’t have a complete proposal! The reality is that unless the UK brings something substantive forward, the talks will stall simply because there is nothing to talk about.Read more
This has been a busy week in both Brussels and Westminster. Boris Johnson’s arrogant and ridiculous statement to the House of Commons that so far as honouring the UK’s financial commitments the EU could “Go whistle!” seems a long time ago. A few days later Michel Barnier’s rather dry response that: "I'm not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking," seemed rather apt since by the end of the week the UK Government has conceded it will pay something.
This reveals the process for the farce that it is. The worry is that it is too easy to just laugh at the madness and move on, but the dangers we face are far too serious for that. The Great Repeal Bill was published this week and is everything I feared it would be:Read more
Another week, another lie of the Leave campaign exposed for what it was. This time, it was the turn of the nonsense peddled about Turkey’s application to join the EU. My fellow MEPs and I passed a further report on Turkey’s application to join the EU. It re-stated our position to freeze all membership negotiations. For those of you interested, point 7 is the key line:
“[The European Parliament] Recalls its position from November 2016 to freeze the accession process with Turkey;”
The full text is of the report is available here: