Scotland in Europe update - 17th March 2017

Theresa May has not listened, her government has refused to countenance compromise and now we face the cold reality of the UK constitution.

In this family of nations we were promised a UK-wide approach to Brexit, yet the First Minister of Scotland has been told neither the timing nor the content of the imminent article 50 letter.

The Scottish Government's paper, Scotland's Place in Europe, was published in good faith and represents a significant compromise on the part of the Scottish Government. Our efforts at compromise have been met with a brick wall of intransigence.

To be clear, even now the door is open for further discussions should the UK government change its mind and decide it is willing to negotiate. But the language from Downing Street is stark and suggests this is very unlikely.

That it is why the only option left to give Scotland’s people a choice is an independence referendum, and on Monday the First Minster announced that she would start the process of holding one. If you wish to read Nicola Sturgeon’s full announcement you can do so here:

As always, I hope you continue to find these emails useful, and please do feel free to share this update and encourage people to register for more at


The Scottish Government’s formal announcement of a Referendum can be read here:  

The Scottish Greens support the Scottish Government, ensuring a majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Europe watched events with interest. In Germany alone: Der Spiegel (, Die Zeit (, Rheinische Post (, Frankfurter Rundschau (, Tagesschau (, and finally Der Tagesspiegel ( who noted:

“As First Minister of Scotland, Sturgeon is something like the Prime Minister of a German federal state - with the crucial difference that the union between England and Scotland, which has existed since 1707, has always been an alliance of unequal partners.”

And a few examples from elsewhere are: France (Ouest France,, the Netherlands (de Volkskrant, and Sweden (ETC

Elsewhere, Ireland’s parliamentary Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has produced a report calling for a “designated special status for Northern Ireland within the EU.”

Can the Civil Service, at its smallest since the Second World War with a reduced headcount and smaller budgets, carry out Brexit? The Institute for Government has a report assessing this:

There could be no formal agreement on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK until end of Brexit negotiations, according to suggestions by Liam Fox and David Davis

In contrast Guy Verhofstadt has been arguing that UK citizens should keep EU rights on ‘individual’ basis.

"When you sign on for a contract you commit yourself to participation. And obviously the extent of that level of money will be determined." So said Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, arguing that the UK will have to pay to lea ve the EU.

The alcohol industry has been given a year to self-regulate before the European Commission imposes regulation on the labelling of ingredients and calories. This is good if slightly overdue news. I have said for years that it is only right that consumers should know what they are drinking. Several firms, including the Scottish brewery Tennent’s, have already committed to printing their ingredients but unfortunately some producers have resisted.

And the formal announcement from Commission is here:

The tax-take is to drop by £700m post-Brexit

Dublin is Bank of America's proposed option for a new base within the European Union

There has been a lot of attention on Scotland’s Place in Europe this week and Scotland’s MEPs have been playing their part. The BBC came out and spoke to myself and some of my colleagues:

I was also interviewed for L'Humanité:

And Ouest-France:

Finally, I wrote a piece for the German political foundation Die Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung on why I am proudly Scottish and European.