The tension is clearly rising as we approach Theresa May’s deadline for triggering article 50. It is not yet clear when the back and forth between the House of Lords and the House of Commons will end. I hope Theresa May will at least have the decency to avoid initiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU near the 25th March 2017 as that marks the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community.Read more
This week we saw a vision of the future of the EU laid out in a thoughtful, intelligent and sensitive speech from President of the Commission Jean Claude Juncker.
His speech unveiled a White Paper on the future of the EU27. Personally speaking I am desperately sad that Scotland faces not being part of this important conversation. Brexit, if it happens, is not going to uninvent the EU and it is a tragedy that Scotland faces being removed against our will. If you are interested in the full text and explanations of the various options being discussed you can read more here:Read more
The EU has begun to get down to the nitty gritty details and has confirmed that they see the UK paying about €60 billion before leaving. It is not a simple process (the explanation from Politico that I have included covers it well) but remember this is just the first step. Nothing else can be discussed until this is agreed to by the UK. That means that for now all talk of trade deals, discussion over cross border healthcare, farming, environmental regulation, workers’ rights or consumer rights are just pipe dreams.Read more
Last week was a rough one, I don’t mind admitting. Having to watch the House of Commons debate how, when and if the UK Government should begin the withdrawal process from the EU was horrible.
So many lies, so many half-truths, so many unapologetic proven shysters getting away with it. The SNP MPs, and plenty of others, tried their best but the die was cast. The Tories in the UK Government have been given a blank cheque. It turns out “taking back control” actually meant “give control to the Tories”.Read more
This week has been challenging. As the House of Commons voted in favour of handing Theresa May a Brexit blank cheque, the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly against triggering Article 50. Never before has it been so apparent that the views of Scotland’s national legislature and those of Westminster are so at odds. In Holyrood the SNP were joined by the Greens, Liberal Democrats and the majority of Labour in opposing the UK Government’s ‘plan’.Read more
This week MPs backed a bill giving complete control of the process of leaving the EU to the Tories. It went forward despite SNP opposition and only one Scottish MP voting in favour.
There is a still a long way to go, and the fight is not over yet but this illustrates the scale of the challenge. Despite the efforts of the SNP, MPs are simply not holding the government to account. The Bill they have initially approved is a blank cheque with no controls or restraints to rein in the hard Brexit Theresa May is proposing. There is still some time for changes in committee stage but I have very little hope any will be made.Read more
This week, by a majority of 8:3, the Supreme Court found that the UK Government cannot trigger Article 50 without an Act of the UK Parliament. However, it was not all good news since although the UK Government lost the case the Court also concluded that they do not need to consult the devolved legislators such as the Scottish Parliament.
This is the cold reality of the UK constitution where power devolved is power retained. It also graphically illustrates that the so called "partnership of equals” described in 2014 is just political fluff. The full judgment of the court is available from here:
In response to this the UK Government has put forward a Bill to allow them to initiate article 50.
It is pitifully short and vague. In my opinion it isn't a Bill, it is a blank cheque to the Tories.
Reaching out to our European friends and explaining our proposition to keep Scotland in the Single Market is crucial. As part of this I delivered a lecture to the College of Europe in Warsaw. I lived in Poland in the nineties, when it was not a member of the European Union, and I know what Europe means to Poland. These were fascinating times and, in the same spirit, I want Scotland to remain in our family of European nations because we are better off.Read more
It has been a very busy week, with Theresa May finally delivering her long-heralded Brexit speech. It was far from being a plan, or a white paper but it did at last give us some idea of the direction of travel. A wish list is perhaps the best description!
It is clear she has at least listened to European leaders and worked out that Single Market access means freedom of movement must continue.Read more
So, 2017 is here and it is going to be an important busy year for both Scotland and Europe.
It’s still January but already we’ve seen new developments. Malta has taken up the Presidency of the Council which confers upon the member state the authority to set the agenda, chair the meetings and generally develop the long-term priorities of the EU. It is far from a symbolic role.Read more
This week my thoughts are firmly with those affected by the horrific events in Germany. At times like these we must all work together to build bridges between nations and communities, not sow seeds of division through our words or actions.Read more