Scotland in Europe Update: 18th October 2019

We have a deal! A triumph! Or so the UK Government would have you believe...

The reality is rather different.

If you have a feeling we have been here before, you’re right. We have. Remember the heady days of late 2018? Theresa May portraying herself as triumphant having secured a deal, only to face the House of Commons? Well, here we are again.

First things first, let’s go over what has, and has not, been agreed. Despite the spin (and there is going to be an awful lot of that) the vast majority of this deal is identical to what Theresa May agreed and has been rejected by the House of Commons three times. The sections on the financial settlement and citizens’ rights for instance are completely untouched.

What has changed? Two sections, the political declaration and the Northern Ireland protocol. The former of these lays out what everybody hopes to negotiate in the future and, as was the case under Theresa May, it can be ignored by any future government. It does however serve as a clear indicator of the Prime Minister’s future intentions. On that front the news is not good. He is proposing a distant relationship from the EU governed by a simple trade deal.

This will be even more damaging than what Theresa May proposed. Have no illusion, Scotland is being dragged to a hard Brexit despite our clear opposition to it.

The second changed part deals with Northern Ireland. Though this is complicated in its detail, the easiest way to explain it is that it is a Northern Ireland-only backstop – exactly like Theresa May initially rejected – only dressed up in a way that Johnson can claim it is not a backstop. If you want to know more, the European Commission has a handy Q&A:

The actual texts are available here: and here:

The Johnson deal is a rehashed version of May’s deal, which is now even worse for Scotland and the UK but, for all its faults, it is now the focus of Westminster. The text will be put to the House of Commons on Saturday. Now the only question is how hypocritical and/or craven Labour and Tory MPs are and whether they acquiesce or resist in nodding through this bad deal. Saturday will be a complex day with amendments tabled on the UK Government motion. So there is plenty of opportunity to push for an extension or referendum. There will need to be an extension of some duration to implement the deal even if it passes.

The EU will grant this. There will be a lot of talk about this and threats of this deal or no deal but it is a false choice. Let us repeat, the EU will offer an extension if asked.



The recent events in Catalonia are horrifying and a travesty of justice. You can read Alyn’s response as President of EFA here.

As I am sure you all saw, last weekend at SNP conference Nicola Sturgeon announced she will demand powers to hold a 2020 referendum.

We all had a great time at SNP conference and our European Fringe events were very popular. Here you can watch Christian’s event which was co-hosted by the 3 million.

Boris Johnson’s deal will result in a 6.4% cut in GDP, as opposed to 4.9%, according to Anand Menon and Jonathan Portes. You can read the full report here.

Jo Maugham of the Good Law Project has filed papers challenging the UK Government on whether Johnson’s deal is compatible with current UK law.

Ireland’s diplomacy over the last few years has been a stunning illustration of what independence in Europe means. This week Macron praised it as a ‘diplomatic tour de force’. We couldn’t agree more.

Peter Geoghegan has written and important piece for the Guardian. As he argues “when the government is able to use the convention of blind quotes to regularly set the news agenda, something has gone wrong.”

Could international law stop a no deal Brexit? No, but it could help if the political will were there, as Dr Hannah Woolaver of the University of Cape Townwrites.

Potato farmers have been expressing concern about the impact of a no deal Brexit on potato seed exports.

Julia Magntorn Garrett of the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory, has produced an updated guide to the UK’s no deal tariff proposals.

The House of Commons released a good report on the Common Travel Area in the UK.

Questions about EU trade policy? The European Parliament Research Service has put together a handy guide.

Finally, the EU citizens’ rights project is hosting a briefing session for third sector workers in Perth on Brexit and EU Citizens. This briefing session on Brexit is aimed at NGOs, EU citizens’ rights groups, community groups and other third sector organisations. Attendees will be signposted to any relevant materials and support tools, such as Home Office toolkits, and specific advice services for citizens who need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.