Scotland in Europe Update: 14th December 2018

What a week! It is almost impossible to know where to start. The good news is that there is a clear path to stopping Brexit. On Monday morning (which feels a very long time ago) the European Court of Justice ruled in "the Scottish Case" confirming categorically that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

This Judgment is definitive and cannot be appealed. It follows the Opinion of the Advocate General published last week that Article 50 allows for the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU. The case brought a cross party group of Scottish Parliamentarians (including me) has confirmed, once and for all from the highest court in the business, that the UK can indeed change its mind on Brexit. A bright light has switched on above an 'EXIT' sign. You can read the press release from the court here:

The bad news has been scattered throughout the week. It has been clear for the last two years that many politicians in the UK simply do not understand the EU or Brexit. This week has been full of graphic indicators of that ignorance.

May abandoned her promised ‘meaningful vote’ to renegotiate a treaty which the EU will not renegotiate. Not out of meanness or spite but because there simply is not time. The EU remains flexible, the UK can still leave with the deal and negotiate a Canada or Norway style agreement later, the UK can choose between a UK wide backstop and the Northern Ireland specific backstop but the backstop must be there. That is because the Good Friday Agreement must be upheld and because, unlike the UK, the EU understands solidarity and stands with Ireland.

The position of the official opposition? Well, Corbyn says that, unlike Theresa May who intends to renegotiate a deal that cannot be renegotiated, he would be better at renegotiating a deal that cannot be renegotiated. To be clear, the legal text of the deal is the deal. The EU Council conclusions from this week say the same:

That means our only options are simple: leave with this deal or remain. I will not even dignify ‘no deal’ as an option. Scotland voted for remain.

As for the ugly, well, I refer you to the Tories this week. Cancelling votes in parliament, triggering leadership elections in the middle of a national crisis and then trying to defend a ruling from the UK Supreme Court that confirmed they had taken powers from the Scottish parliament by blindly asserting the opposite. It doesn’t get much uglier than that!

Yours aye,




You can read my response to the Article 50 ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU here.

And the full ruling can be read here:

After the ruling the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar correctly emphasised that “it is within the gift of the Government and UK Parliament to take the threat of No Deal off the table... by revoking Article 50 or seeking an extension of A50”.

Jo Maugham QC, Director of the Good Law Project which backed the case wrote a passionate piece about what he thinks the result means.

Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland was one of my co-plaintiffs. As she says: “the suggestion put forward by both Tory backbenchers and Labour frontbenchers that a ‘better’ Brexit deal can be secured is nonsense.”

Here is Ian Dunt’s assessment of the case. As he says, this ruling shows the ECJ respects sovereignty more than UK Government does.

If you read just one article this week, I recommend this one by Ryan Heath. “It is Britain’s unique ignorance that makes Britain so boring. Ignorant about its leverage and ignorant about the EU, the U.K. is coming across as clumsy and caddish.”

Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s former representative to the EU, spoke at the University of Liverpool and emphasised: “We just cannot go on as we have been: evading and obfuscating choices – indeed frequently denying, against all evidence, that there are unavoidable choices.”

The UK Supreme Court has ruled the Scottish Continuity Bill was within the competence of the Scottish Parliament when it was passed.

Unfortunately, since then the UK Government used the EU Withdrawal Bill to strip power from the Parliament and now large swathes of it are not within competence. If ever anybody questioned whether the power grab was real, this is the black and white proof that the UK has taken power from Scotland.

You can also read Alan S. Reid, Senior Lecturer in Law, Sheffield Hallam University, on the result here. He concludes: “This morning’s judgment is a clear vindication of the Lord Advocate’s [of Scotland] position.”

The House of Commons Committee on Exiting the European Union agrees unanimously that the Prime Minister’s deal fails to offer sufficient clarity or certainty for the future of the UK.

It has been confirmed that the meaningful vote will not be next week. Theresa May is running from this to save her job.

Senior Conservative MPs are apparently exasperated that Ireland has a say over the Withdrawal Agreement. It seems that yet again they fail to understand what EU membership is.

We have known for a while that the UK’s self-inflicted redlines were where this all went wrong by boxing the UK into an impossible position. The obsession with migration more than anything else has made it impossible to deliver a sensible compromise and we can now prove that this came directly from Theresa May.

65% of people in Northern Ireland would now vote Remain and 60% think that a united Ireland is more likely after Brexit.

The dramatic reduction in the number of EU migrant workers coming to Britain since the EU Referendum has meant the NHS is having problems recruiting enough staff.

One third of Tory MPs now do not support Theresa May. This means there is no way her deal can pass the House of Commons at this time.

Finally, Dara Doyle has written a longer read titled How Ireland Outmanoeuvred Britain on Brexit.