Scotland in Europe Update: 20th December 2019

This week the Scottish Government laid out the constitutional and democratic case for Scotland being able to choose its own future. The UK is a voluntary association of nations and as such it cannot be in the interest of any part for our right to choose our future to be conditional, or time limited, or a one-off.

The crux of this is simple: democracy is a process. It did not stop in 2014, nor in 2016. The SNP have now won several concurrent elections on manifestos which pledged to give the Scottish people the choice to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, be it through a people’s vote or an independence referendum.

That is not to claim that everybody who voted SNP voted for independence, they clearly didn’t. However, many voted to stop a Brexit which will now take place. The ‘nation of equals’ UK we were promised in 2014 is going to crumble around us. The Tories will have free reign to do as they please, and though the SNP and Scottish Government will continue to fight them, the reality is that, under the flawed UK constitution, if Prime Minister Johnson wants it done, it will be done.


It is right then that the people of Scotland have another choice. It is a fundamental right of self-determination. Our mandate to offer the Scottish people a choice over their future is, by any normal standard of democracy, unarguable.

The choice to offer is simple: Scotland in Europe or the Tories' Brexit Britain. Over the next few months there will be a lot of work to do to keep the boat off the rocks and keep the channels of communication open between Scotland and the EU. We will be continuing to do our bit in Brussels for as long as we can.

Note: The European Parliament will be closed until the 6th of January, so the next update from us will be on the 10th January.



You can read more details about the case for an independence referendum here.

And here is Nicola Sturgeon’s statement on Scotland’s right to choose.

Neil Mackay wrote this column in the Herald which rightly concludes: “Brexit alone is grounds enough for a second independence referendum. The SNP’s electoral mandate makes the argument unassailable.”

As we travel back from Strasbourg, picking our way around and through the French strikes, this piece from James Elles raises a good point that we in the SNP have made for years. We must engage with and understand Europe because it is different from the UK. After Brexit this will be more important than ever.

Christian has been busy representing Scotland in Europe in the wake of the election. He appeared on L’Humanite with Labour's Richard Corbett MEP

Christian was also a guest on Hebdo – a program on French channel LCP – with Stéphane Séjourné French MEP for En Marche!

Aileen had a very useful meeting this week with European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans on the European Green Deal, climate change, COP26 and the well-being economy. Scotland has positive role to play working with our EU friends & international partners and we must continue to do so whatever happens in 2020.

In some good news, MEPs voted for a reduction in the use of pesticides to save Europe’s bees.

Guy Verhofstadt warned that citizens should never become the victims of Brexit. To be clear, it is very unlikely that the European Parliament would reject the deal but it good that at least this parliament is standing up for citizens as much as it can, even if Westminster is not.

In an act of self-harm (that may actually be in breach of good faith clauses in the Withdrawal Agreement) the Prime Minister has attempted to put into law that the UK's transition out of the EU will end in December 2020. To be clear, no trade deal with the EU has ever been done that fast. The best case outcome from this clause is that Mr Johnson will simply have to accept whatever the EU offers because he is in such a rush. As European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned while addressing MEPs in the European Parliament on Wednesday, the UK has a lot more to lose.

The European Green Deal has an ambitious double target to “reconcile the economy with the planet” and to become Europe’s “new growth strategy”. As President von der Leyen said 11 days into her job: “This is Europe’s ‘man on the moon’ moment.”

Scotland can and should be a part of this effort, and we have much we could contribute.

There was also some welcome news for the Catalans as the European Court of Justice concluded that jailed leader Oriol Junqueras should have been given immunity so he can take up his seat as an MEP.

Heather Anderson will replace Alyn in Brussels, and we look forward to welcoming her to the European Parliament!

In London, the Queen’s Speech confirmed what we already knew: the Conservatives will drag Scotland from the EU against its will.

This analysis of the election from Politico is well worth a read. Too often the UK looks across the Atlantic to try and explain its politics rather than to those countries that are geographically the nearest.

It is worth remembering that Vote Leave has now completed their takeover of the Tory party. As this anonymous civil servant warns, Dominic Cummings is now free to do as he wishes.

And finally, here is this year’s Christmas Card from the First Minister of Scotland. It’s been a long and tough year, and we all need a good rest. Thank you to everyone for your support over the last few weeks, months and years, and we hope you have a fantastic Christmas and New Year.