Scotland in Europe Update 13th April 2018

As we all watch the Commonwealth Games (and cheer on Scotland!) it is worth remembering what the Commonwealth is and – more importantly – what it isn’t. A number of senior UK Government ministers such as Boris Johnson and Liam Fox have expressed in various ways what seems to be a nostalgic yearning for the Empire. This reached a highpoint when officials started talking about Empire 2.0.

We also saw this during the referendum campaign: Westminster exceptionalism blended with a desire to get back to the ‘good old days’ has proven to be a toxic yet potent message.

To be clear, the Commonwealth is mercifully not the British Empire, but neither is it a trading organisation nor an EU alternative. The assumption that the legacy of Empire can seamlessly replace, or better the UK’s current trading arrangements with the EU is fanciful. The bottom line is simple: in 2015 about 44% of UK goods and services went to the EU while 9% went to the Commonwealth.

There is of course more to any relationship than trade. The EU is both our largest international trading partner and a close ally in the fight to protect workers’ rights and the environment. Many Commonwealth nations meanwhile have regulatory regimes well below what Scotland currently enjoys.

If you wish to read more on the subject, Philip Murphy wrote this excellent piece:

So yes, let’s enjoy the games and celebrate the links Scotland has around the world. Let’s also remember that the Commonwealth is not an EU substitute, nor should British ministers sit dreaming of resurrecting the Empire.

We’re trying to make sense of Brexit but that doesn’t mean the fight to stop it is over. Here’s why.

This is an important read from Simon Wren-Lewis warning of ‘the complete failure’ of the Brexit Project. There is little for anyone to be cheerful about, but it underlines why those of us who can work together need to stop it before it is too late.

After years of moaning about ‘Brussels red tape’ the CBI has said that it is actually essential.

The full CBI report can be read here.

And this is a point I have been making for a long time!

David Martin, Labour MEP for Scotland, (who also noted the irony of the CBI story this week) has written an important piece taking stock of where we are one year after the triggering of Article 50.

The EU Commission has paid tribute to all those involved in setting up the Good Friday Agreement.

Hilary Clinton as warned that Brexit must not be allowed to undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

In a deeply worrying turn of events, Labour’s shadow international trade secretary has called the Good Friday Agreement a shibboleth.

The UK has still not come up with an alternative to the EU’s proposal.

Which is why the Irish Department for Foreign Affairs has now created 280 documents planning for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Phil Hogan, Ireland’s EU Commissioner, has emphasised that Theresa May’s Global Britain is not realistic because there are “stubborn facts that over-shadow a rosy picture”.

This piece in the Atlantic, containing lots of detailed analysis of the Good Friday Agreement from Katy Hayward, is well worth a read.

The UK Government is going to court to try to strike down the Scottish Parliament’s Continuity Bill.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, has warned that there will be a price for the UK if it leaves the single market.

Friends of the Earth have warned that “nature protection policies are judged to be especially vulnerable as they are at risk under all [Brexit] scenarios”

These concerns are not at all surprising. David Davis this week re-emphasised there is room for “significant regulatory divergence” after Brexit

Our best hope to protect environmental standards rests with the EU. Michel Barnier has again spoken about how it would be unacceptable for the UK to undermine EU standards post-Brexit.

There is UK-wide support for a vote on the final Brexit deal, according to a recent YouGov poll.

The number of UK nationals becoming citizens of other EU member states has increased by 165%.

The UK Financial Conduct Authority has warned it will have to cut down operations due to Brexit.

A Credit Suisse note has warned that the UK economy faces serious demographic challenges.

Portugal joins the ever-expanding list of countries making efforts to lure UK firms away after Brexit.

Tech UK has warned that “rapid action” is needed to protect businesses and consumers from Brexit.

Finally, this an important piece of research from the Oxford Migration Observatory warning that a number of EU citizens risk losing all their rights after Brexit.