Scotland in Europe Update: 23rd August 2019

So this week the UK Government announced that its officials will stop attending most EU meetings as of the beginning of September. To be clear, this madness is simply pandering to Tory back benchers. By not attending meetings the UK deliberately cuts itself off from decision making and reduces its influence in the EU.

Remarkably, the Government has decided to give its voting rights to the current holder of the presidency of the EU, Finland. A country of 5.5 million people, strikingly similar to the population of Scotland. There are better options for us and we need to keep everything on the table at the moment. You can read more here:

In an equally disturbing move the UK Government also announced it would use the Henry VIII powers granted by the EU Withdrawal Act to end freedom of movement at midnight on the 31 October. Such a move would plunge the borders into chaos and potentially trap millions of people in legal limbo. Theresa May’s government promised that these powers would not be used to set new immigration policies, and that there would be a separate bill to the House of Commons allowing democratic scrutiny.

Firstly – by way of reassurance to those impacted by this outrageous policy – we say to EU27 citizens who have made Scotland their home: whatever happens, Scotland remains your home. We will do everything in our power to stand up for your rights. Secondly, it is simply not possible to end freedom of movement in the way that the Government is claiming. As Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said:

“Even if the government knew exactly what it wanted the post-Brexit immigration system to look like, it wouldn’t be possible to implement it immediately after a no deal Brexit. That’s because any new restrictions on EU migration can’t be enforced unless UK employers know which EU citizens have been here for years and which ones arrived post-Brexit and have to comply with the new immigration regime. Realistically, the only way to do this is to implement the EU Settlement Scheme so that EU citizens have had enough time to apply for status before restrictions are imposed.”

As with so much of Brexit we don’t know what the outcome will be, but rest assured we will continue to stand up for the rights of EU citizens and do all we can to stop Brexit.



The Prime Minister has written a letter to Donald Tusk asking the EU to remove the backstop. In it he asserts that the backstop is “inconsistent with the UK's desired final destination” outside the EU.

Safe to say the response has been predictable. “The backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found. Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it.”

The EU Commission echoed the response from the Council emphasising that the letter “doesn’t provide a legal, operational solution to prevent the return of a hard border on island of Ireland.”

The Chair of the Irish Senate’s Brexit Committee, Senator Neale Richmond, also emphasised the UK's responsibilities to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

And a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members have signed a joint letter to confirm their support for the backstop.

This piece by Finn McRedmond in the Irish Times is well worth a read. We'd especially recommend it to all the British right wing press who currently don’t appear to understand why Ireland is behaving as it is.

The UK Freight Transport Association has warned that the country is ‘shooting in the dark’ if it goes through with a no deal Brexit.

Sky have seen a local authority no deal planning document revealing a raft of concerns.

We were all left shaking our heads after the debacle that was the Prime Minister’s European tour but in case you missed it, Angela Merkel did not give Boris Johnson a 30 day period to fix the backstop, as anybody watching could see and as the German government clarified later.

Ian Dunt⁩ has written the only piece you need to read about the Prime Minister’s trip.

“Without EU succour, the consequences of going it alone will be painfully felt.” Christopher Hill paints a bleak but accurate report of the options that UK diplomats will face in the post Brexit.

Alan S. Reid has put together a good explanation of the latest legal efforts to stop the prorogation of parliament.

“The ‘Brexit means Brexit’ refrain from those supporting the UK’s departure from the European Union has become rather well-worn – especially when those that state this are seemingly prepared to overlook a more important point: the law is the law.” Elaine Motion who is supporting the case has written a good summary of how she sees the law.

The Court of Session has agreed to the fast track the case.

The European Parliament Research Service has put together a summary of all the work done by the Parliament contributing to stability and peace in the last five years.

A cross party group of MEPs have emphasised that the UK will not get a good trade deal, if any trade deal, with the US. As Alyn said: "It is nothing short of terrifying that the worst elements of the Trump Administration are aiding and abetting the active deception of the people of the UK that there are somehow super special trade deals just around the corner.”

Finally, there will be a March to Remain in the EU for Peace and Climate Action on the 21 September. You can sign up here.