Scotland in Europe Update: 21st September 2018

As the saying goes, the darkest hour is right before dawn. Without getting ahead of ourselves too much, the events of this week may prove that statement right when it comes to Brexit.

In a major development, today the Court of Session in Edinburgh - Scotland’s Highest Court - agreed that the our case asking whether the UK can remain in the EU on the present terms (in other words unilaterally revoke the notification of Article 50) must be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union. For the avoidance of any doubt, we're not trying to 'overturn' anything; we want clarity. Before MPs vote on whatever cobbled-together patchwork deal May returns with, they need to know if it's possible to revoke Article 50.

Be under no illusions, this is a bombshell of a judgement. The petition had originally been dismissed, in part because it was considered hypothetical as the UK government had stated they would not revoke Article 50. However, as MPs will be required to vote on the terms of a UK-EU deal, should such a thing materialise (see below), the Court of Session has ruled that they must have clarity on all options legally open to them and that includes options for the UK to remain within the EU. You can read the judgement in full here:

Pending the decision of the EU’s Court of Justice (expected by the end of the year), now there is an increased possibility of putting an end to this madness.

The madness of Brexit was there for all the world to see this week as, once again, the UK government failed to put forward something even vaguely resembling a workable plan while still expecting others to sort out the mess they have created.

According to coverage in the UK media and the claims of Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and others, EU leaders ambushed Theresa May at the Salzburg summit, rejecting her Chequers plan without explaining why. In reality, Donald Tusk, Emmanuel Macron and others only said what the EU has been saying through Michel Barnier for months now - that the Chequers plan is neither workable nor acceptable. Why? By allowing freedom of movement for goods but not services it divides the four indivisible freedoms which are the foundation of the European Union.

Anybody who has been paying attention these past months could have told you that Theresa May’s attempt to flog her proposal in Salzburg would get her nowhere fast. Apparently though it came as a shock to her, so much so that she felt the need to make a statement in Downing Street on Friday afternoon where she doubled-down on a proposal which the EU cannot accept and which she cannot sell to her own party. She believes that her EU counterparts’ rejection of Chequers is simply a negotiating tactic. She simply cannot wrap her head around the fact that Europe’s leaders are simply respecting and upholding the laws and treaties of the European Union. Laws which every member - including the UK - has signed up to.

The fact that the statement was delayed because of a power shortage in number 10 was an appropriate setting for the farce which unfolded before our eyes. On top of that the pound, which had been depreciating throughout the day, hit a new low as May was speaking. All in all, it was a grim spectacle... but the referral of our case to the EU Court of Justice means there was a flicker of light at the end of the dark tunnel that is Brexit. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon branded the Prime Minister's statement "dreadful".



Scotland's public services are concerned about the potential loss of EU talent

Manfred Weber, leader of the European Parliament's largest political group, has reiterated that post-Brexit trade checks must not be on the Irish Border

Holyrood's Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee is asking businesses and organisations to respond to a call for evidence of what they're doing to prepare for Brexit and what they expect from the negotiations.

Christine Lagarde, Chief of the International Monetary Fund has highlighted the recession risk of no-deal Brexit

Irish Tánaiste Simon Coveney points out that while technology won't magically fix the Irish border issue, it could help simplify checks between Britain and the island of Ireland.

Michel Barnier vows that any future UK PM will not be allowed to unpick whatever Brexit deal (if any) is ultimately reached

The Chequers deal could be undone after Britain leaves EU, claims Michael Gove, in a move set to reassure the EU that the UK negotiatiors can't be trusted.

Deutsche Bank steps up plan to shift more UK assets after Brexit 

And UBS chooese a Frankfurt Hub as they prepare for No-Deal Brexit

An interesting read here from the Centre on Constitutional Change, titled Taking Stock: Scotland and Brexit

Scotland's academic blog on Europe has published a paper on 'Incorporating International Human Rights in a Devolved Context'

New EU law on advance travel authorisation for non-EU visitors has been published and will likely apply to UK visitors after Brexit.

Press statement by Michel Barnier reiterates that the EU is determined to avoid a Hard Border in Northern Ireland.

Finally, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard - the author of Article 50 - says a second vote on Brexit is viable and the letter triggering Article 50 could be withdrawn