Scotland in Europe Update: 25th October 2019

It has been a long week. Only last Saturday MPs were voting on the Prime Minster’s new deal, then a Withdrawal Bill, then back to the Queen’s speech. The palace on the Thames continues to spit out events that seem to bring neither clarity nor progress.

Nobody knows what will happen next. Largely because nobody is in control. The UK Government has no majority, the Labour party is divided, and Scotland is simply being dragged along as an afterthought. A couple of important developments are worth mentioning.

Firstly, it now seems we will have an extension since Parliament forced the PM into asking. That means that in all likelihood this is not your final Scotland in Europe Update from your SNP MEPs. It is not yet guaranteed and crucially we do not yet know how long for but it seems more than likely we will be here a little longer.

Secondly, there is increasing pressure for a general election. To be clear, the SNP is in favour of holding an election as soon as possible to rid us of this Tory government. We will not support it however if there is any chance Johnson can use the period to deliver a no deal Brexit.

Not to sound like a broken record but our three choices are still the same: the deal, no deal and revoking article 50. We need to move towards revoke, whether it is via a referendum or not. The only way to achieve that is to change the maths in the House of Commons and that needs a general election. Indeed, for Scotland’s future we need to either change the numbers to stop Brexit or – if we can’t do that – to deliver an independence referendum. Either way, all roads point to an election.

By this time next week we will know about the length of the extension and then maybe we will have slightly more of an idea. But for now we have to wait see what the EU27 offer and how the UK Government responds. Keep the heid, folks, it’s going to be another bumpy week.



Today the First Minister wrote an open letter to EU citizens. We think it is important to keep emphasising our welcoming, supportive message and so we have reproduced the most important part here:

“I wrote an open letter to you in 2016 following the EU referendum and again in April this year to assure you that amidst the uncertainty of Brexit, Scotland welcomes you.

“Amidst the continued uncertainty I would like to assure you my message has not changed: Scotland values you for the contribution you make to our society, our culture and our economy. Whether you have lived here for months or many years, Scotland is your home, you are welcome here, and we want you to stay.

“The UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme is now in place and while I do not agree that you should need to go through an application process to secure rights that you should automatically have, I do want to ensure that you are able to stay in Scotland after Brexit.

“Many of you will already have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme. For those of you who have not yet applied, I would encourage you to do so as soon as possible. The UK Government has said that you will have until 31 July 2021 to apply, or until 31 December 2020 if no deal is reached.

“I absolutely appreciate the emotional impact of making such an application. I know that the process may be a source of anxiety to you and that you may be uncertain about what information is required.

“To support you through this time I launched the Scottish Government’s ‘Stay in Scotland’ campaign. It provides practical advice and assistance including information and guidance on the EU Settlement Scheme application process, as well as information on where you can find more support with your application.

“But it’s not just about supporting you to make an application to stay here; it’s also about making sure that you are aware of your rights. We cannot allow a situation to arise where people are denied access to services to which they are entitled to. You can find more information at

We urge the EU to give us more time to find a way out of the brexit mess.

The best summaries of the week are by Ian Dunt. Firstly, here is his breakdown of Saturday:

And of the lay of the land now.

The Scottish and Welsh First Ministers have jointly demanded time to scrutinise the Brexit deal. The Withdrawal Bill and deal will have huge implications for the devolved nations and the parliaments must have time to scrutinise them.

Amazingly the PM has said the Scottish Parliament has no role in approving the Bill even though the UK Government’s own explanatory notes list 17 instances where legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament is required.

The UK Government published the actual bill for the Withdrawal Agreement. Steve Peers has published a full legal analysis which is well worth a read.

The Institute for Government has concluded that Boris Johnson’s proposed timetable was designed to frustrate Brexit scrutiny. Opposition from the SNP and others meant that his plan was defeated.

Scottish Government Trade and Investment Minister Ivan McKee is visiting the US to promote links between Scotland and one of the world’s largest economies.

The European Parliament has produced an updated briefing on the Withdrawal Agreement.

As has the House of Commons Library.

The Brexit Steering Group of the European Parliament has confirmed that MEPs will not vote on the deal until after the UK has given its approval.

Meanwhile, the President of the European Parliament and the leaders of the various political groups have confirmed that they support a further extension of the Article 50 process.

We have had a busy Plenary session. Here’s Alyn’s brief summary of the week’s events.

While Wesminster turns in on itself and ignores the big issues (even when they happen in the UK) we MEPs are at our posts and dealing with them. This week we passed a call on EU countries to make full use of existing EU instruments to mitigate the impact of the Thomas Cook bankruptcy.