Scotland in Europe Update 16th March 2018

This week the European Parliament agreed its position on the future EU-UK relationship by 554 votes to 110 with 51 abstentions. With a heavy heart I supported the motion as it is a rational response to the self-imposed red lines of the UK Government. The future we face is pretty bleak and is not one Scotland wants.

The resolution sets out Parliament’s input ahead of 22-23 March summit of EU Council when it is expected that guidelines for negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be approved. Any deal with the UK will require the approval of the European Parliament. It has been proposed that this relationship could be based on four pillars:

  • trade and economic relations (FTA),
  • internal security,
  • cooperation in foreign policy and defence and
  • thematic cooperation, for example on cross-border research and innovation projects.

The resolution stresses the importance of the integrity of the Single Market with its binding common rules, common institutions and common supervisory, enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms. This means that even closely-aligned non-EU countries with identical legislation cannot enjoy the same rights, benefits or market access to those of EU member states. If you want to read the position in full, just click here:

You can also see my speech in the debate here:

The bottom line is simple: if you voted Leave, this is assuredly not the Brexit they promised you. Leave voters were told by serious people that there was no downside and a considerable upside to voting leave.

The future we now face is of a diminished UK, a diminished Europe, a poorer citizenry, a poorer society, a poorer economy. As we see what the reality of Brexit really is, there is no shame in changing our mind.

There is still time to change course.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones have written to the House of Lords explaining why the Scottish and Welsh governments could not recommend consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill on the basis of the latest amendments to Clause 11 from the UK Government.

In a busy week in Holyrood the Finance and Constitution committee’s early mornings and late nights have paid off as they have passed the continuity bill. Next week it will come before the entire chamber. You can read the text here:

The Scottish Parliament’s Europe Committee has called on Scotland and the UK to remain within Erasmus+.

The EU Commission have confirmed their draft agreement for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. I have discussed this in previous bulletins and not much has changed but it is worth remembering the UK has still no put forward its proposals for the Northern Irish Border.

Dr Katy Hayward’s analysis of the UK border has found that “Smart border technology is primarily a means of enhancing efficiency. It cannot make a hard border frictionless,”

The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee agrees, concluding that: “The Government’s proposals for technical solutions represent blue sky thinking but it will not have the time to implement anything substantial before withdrawal day.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has confirmed that it is up to the UK to come up with solutions for the Northern Irish border. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the EU has said this before and the UK agreed in December.

Senator George Mitchell who was instrumental in brokering the Good Friday Agreement has urged that there be no return to a hard border in Ireland.

Unilever, maker of Marmite amongst a multitude of other brands, has picked the Netherlands instead of the UK for its single base. This means the UK is losing its third largest company and Brexit still hasn’t actually happened yet!

Steve Bullock, an ex UK-EU negotiator who has just joined my team – welcome, Steve! – has written an excellent piece in Prospect magazine warning that Theresa May’s deliberate disregard for basic negotiating principles will come back to haunt her.

Stefaan de Rynck, Senior Advisor to Michel Barnier, Chief EU Negotiator for Brexit, gave a lecture to the LSE which is well worth a listen.

Scottish Shortbread is at risk from Brexit.

John Bruton, former Taoiseach of Ireland, believes “that we have a long way to go on this unproductive, time-wasting and tragic road to Brexit.”

Anna Soubry MP and Chuka Umunna MP crossed the party divide and wrote a joint op-ed in the Evening Standard.

An important report from Clifford Chance was published revealing the costs of the red tape imposed by Brexit.

Germany’s BDI industry body has called for the UK to stay in the EU customs union.

Theresa May’s ‘Global Britain’ strategy risks damaging the reputation of the UK, according to the House of Commons’ own Foreign Affairs committee.

Which? magazine have produced a Consumer Charter for Brexit which calls a Brexit “where people are supported by high levels of rights and protection”.

The Institute for Government has put together a report on how much Whitehall spending on exiting the EU. Clue: it turns out to be quite a lot.

The UK in a Changing Europe has published a report concluding that “Brexit will pose serious challenges to the NHS and healthcare in the UK including: longer waiting times, increased pressure on staffing levels, a reduction in rights when travelling and delays in the approvals of medicines.”

Finally, it appears that the UK Government is trying to silence companies about discussions on trade border changes post-Brexit through non-disclosure agreements.