Scotland in Europe Update: 12th April 2019

It has been another long week but at the end of it another so-called ‘Brexit Day’ has been and gone. Scotland is still in the EU!

Theresa May went to Brussels and came back with an extension until Halloween. The EU has again shown itself to be a mature body of compromise. Although the frustration in Brussels is palpable, all the countries were looking for the best way to help the UK. But the situation in Westminster is so confused that there was significant debate about the best way to do that. After discussion they compromised, and the deadline of October 31 was set. Politics the mature, European way.

This is not my dream – of revoking Article 50 – but it is far from a Halloween nightmare. I must confess, at times I have felt I am in some bad science fiction novel: partially existing in about three, maybe four, parallel universes. There is the universe where we won the independence referendum; the one where Cameron did not make is disastrous gamble to have an EU referendum; the one where May got her deal through the Commons and we left the EU on March 29; and now there’s the one where an EU election takes place in Scotland on May 23. There’s also the one where May still manages to get her deal through and the elections are cancelled.

To be clear, the SNP is ready to do whatever we need to do to fight Scotland’s corner and it is increasingly likely that will include participating in European elections. You can read more about that in my National column:

Next week though is a Strasbourg session, one which I once thought that we Scottish MEPs would not be attending. I’ll be there standing up for Scotland and then the campaign trail beckons. For now though, let’s enjoy the small victory that Brexit has been deferred again. There is a lot more to do yet and I am not going down without a fight.

Tell your friends and family that you have until 7 May to register to vote in the European Parliament election, and remember that EU27 citizens can vote too.



The big news was the meeting of the EU Council on Wednesday which was convened to discuss the UK’s request for an extension.

This request was accepted meaning that the UK can stay until 31 October so long as it participates in European Parliament elections. You can read the full terms and conditions here:

And here:

The UK accepted all the terms in just four lines. A stark illustration of which side is in control.

What does this mean? Well, to be honest we will have to wait and see. There is now time for a referendum, general election, a Tory leadership election, or – at a pinch – some combination. There are good reasons why all or none of these might happen however, so let’s all stay calm and take it one step at a time.

The first step being a European Parliament Election. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster wrote to the Electoral Commission, the Wales Electoral Coordination Board and the Scottish Elections Management Board instructing them to start preparations.

Nicola Sturgeon has written to the Prime Minister following the extension of Article 50 warning that the time “must be used constructively to re-set the UK Government approach.”

“Amid the chaos of Brexit, Scotland is a beacon of sense in a sea of madness”. It is good to know that across the Irish Sea our friends have noticed.

The House of Commons passed a deal designed to prevent a no-deal happening but it doesn’t prevent a no-deal happening. To be clear, the only way to guarantee we don’t have a no-deal exit from the EU is to revoke Article 50.

As Jolyon Maugham explains, revoking Article 50 is a very sensible and democratic response.

Open Europe have put together this handy guide to how the European press have reacted.

The IMF has warned that a no-deal Brexit would tip the UK into recession.

It is therefore not surprising that the CBI have welcome the extension and echoed Nicola Sturgeon’s request for a ‘fresh start”.

IPSO has found that a column by Boris Johnson contained a significant inaccuracy and was misrepresentative of actual facts. I am shocked.

Phil Hogan, the EU Agriculture Commissioner, gave an important speech on Brexit and food. “Much of the food that is exported to the UK is fresh food and, therefore, perishable, with little or no scope for delays at ports. So, just because tariffs may not be applied, we cannot underestimate or indeed assume that such products will not be caught-up in severe logistical disruptions, particularly in the early weeks.”

Anne Corbett has written an important piece on how difficult it will be to replace the Erasmus+ programme.

My colleague Seb Dance has written a great piece on the joy of working in Brussels.

A report by the Fraser of Allander Institute has said that Scotland's economy is growing more intertwined with the EU.

Scottish Universities fear that Brexit is jeopardising their participation in schemes such as the world’s biggest Alzheimer’s research project.

Finally, I want to give my congratulations to Katie Bouman for producing the first-ever image of a black hole. The project she made possible was funded by the EU Commission.