Scotland in Europe Update: 22nd March 2019

Well, after a late night in Brussels the EU has made a decision for the UK. We will not leave the EU on 29 March since a short extension to Article 50 has been agreed to. The terms of this are clear:

  • If the House of Commons agrees to pass Theresa May’s deal next week the extension will last until the 22 May.
  • If the House of Commons does not pass the deal, then Article 50 will be extended until 12 April by which point the UK is expected to tell the EU what it wishes to do next.

You can read the full conclusions here:

What does this all mean? Well the good news is that unless the UK unilaterally does something inexplicable then we will not be facing a no deal scenario in one week’s time.

The bad news is that otherwise nothing has changed. The options remain the same: either accept May's deal, no deal or revoke Article 50. The road is a little longer now but we’re still running out of it. The cliff edge, iceberg, your-other-metaphor-of-choice is looming.

My favoured option – which I have expressed for a while – is for the UK to revoke Article 50. We must ensure that is kept on the table since it is the only power we have to guarantee against a no deal Brexit. There is now a petition calling for this on the UK Government's official petitions site. It has gathered more than three million signatures in the past two days. You can add your name here:

Scotland voted to remain. Revoking Article 50 will keep us in the EU, and the UK with us. That will of course not stop the conversation: the UK is going to be talking about Europe for a long time yet. We can either have that conversation while the economy is crashing – and millions feel anxious and afraid – or we can have that conversation while the economy remains weak but stable. Now is the time and we need our MPs to all support this.



This was another long week which began with John Bercow ruling out another meaningful vote on the same deal

On Tuesday Michel Barnier emphasised that any extension must be for a purpose. He correctly emphasised: “It is for the British Government and Parliament to decide very quickly what the UK wants to do next.”

In a letter that annoyed all of the EU – by asking for something that had just been explicitly ruled out – Theresa May asked for an extension to the end of June on Wednesday.

It is worth emphasising the UK Government Policy (as agreed by Parliament) was to request either a short extension to ratify the deal, or a longer extension. Theresa May once again caved to her back bench Brexiters and forgot the latter.

Donald Tusk replied emphasising that an extension until May could be granted if the UK agrees to the Withdrawal Agreement next week. The EU cannot address a longer extension unless Theresa May asks.

Perhaps the best analysis recently has come from RTE. Sean Whelan’s assessment of how London became the Athens of the North is well worth a read.

As is Tony Connelly’s account of how Geoffrey Cox destroyed the PM’s strategy.

Meanwhile in the Irish Times Finton O’Toole has written a damning piece asking if the English are ready for self-government.

In an unprecedented move the CBI and TUC have issued a joint statement emphasising that “the current deal or no deal’ must not be the only choice.”

Universities Scotland has warned that the UK Government’s policies mean that “universities doing life-changing work remain in the dark over what will happen to their current ERC applications or where they will go in future for funding if there is no deal.”

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has downgraded its growth expectations for the UK economy amid continued Brexit uncertainty.

The Welsh Farmers’ Union has called for Article 50 to be revoked.

Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, has also called for a revocation of Article 50 if the deal is not passed.

The DUP – one party of many in Northern Ireland – are demanding a seat at the table when the UK’s trade deals are negotiated.

It is worth remembering the Scottish Conservatives are busy lobbying against the Scottish Government ever having such a role.

Nicola Sturgeon has written to Theresa May emphasising that a further referendum is the is the responsible and democratic thing to do.

Aberdeen University is flying the EU flag over the campus for the rest of the month as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with their European students and staff.

Legal charity Coram have warned that children of non-UK EU nationals are at risk of becoming a new Windrush generation.

Sam Fowles of Cornerstone Barristers has written a good analysis of the various implications of extending the Article 50 period.

The EU Agriculture Commissioner has declared that the UK no deal tariff plan would be illegal.

And finally, in the days to come be careful to double check anything doing the rounds on social media. There is a lot nonsense out there, for instance a whole series of misleading tweets on the Lisbon Treaty. has your back: